'Wolf pack' release sparks protests in Spain

  1. Activists took to the streets in Pamplona, Barcelona, Bilbao, Vitoria and San Sebastian.

A court in Spain has provisionally released five men jailed for sexually abusing a young woman at a festival in Pamplona in 2016. According to reports, the men were released on bail of €6,000, or nearly $7,000 (Guardian).

A regional court panel of three judges ruled two to one that the men be released, pending an appeal of their sentences (NYT).

The case, which saw the men sentenced in April to nine years in jail for sexual abuse but acquitted of rape, was known as the “wolf pack” or “La manada” trial, because of the name used by the men in their WhatsApp group.

The attack took place during the annual running of the bulls festival in Pamplona in July 2016. The woman, who was 18 years old at the time, was assaulted in the early hours of the morning by the five men from Seville. The attackers filmed the episode on their mobile phones.

The case galvanised public outrage (Guardian) after the defendant’s lawyers presented the victim as a consenting sexual partner who suffered no lasting damage in the assault.

According to the court (BBC), the five men show no flight risk and are unlikely to reoffend. In a separate case, according to El Pais, regional police in Navarre have found evidence the men could have drugged and sexually assaulted another woman in the southern province of Córdoba. No date has been set for a hearing on that case.

During their provisional release, the men must surrender their passports and report to a local court three times a week. They are also prevented from communicating with the victim and are banned from travelling to Madrid where she is from.

Shortly after the decision, activists  in Pamplona, Barcelona, Bilbao, Vitoria and San Sebastian took to the streets in protests, holding banners that read “Enough patriarchal justice” and “No is no, anything else is rape.” (Irish Times).

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