Outcry and protests in Spain as five men cleared of Pamplona gang rape

Five Spanish men have been sentenced to nine years each in prison for sexual abuse.

The men were cleared of the charge of gang raping an 18-year-old girl during the 2016 running of the bulls festival in Pamplona.

A protester breaks through a police line after a nine-year sentence was given to five men accused of the multiple rape of a woman during Pamplona's San Fermin festival in 2016. Pic: REUTERS/Vincent West

Protests are being organised across Spain this evening after the news broke of the sentencing including a demonstration outside the justice ministry in Madrid at 8pm.

José Ángel Prenda, Alfonso Cabezuelo, Antonio Manuel Guerrero, Jesús Escudero and Ángel Boza were sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment, five years’ probation and ordered to pay €10,000 each to the woman.

The men must refrain from contacting her for 15 years.

Guerrero, a Guardia Civil police officer, was also fined €900 for stealing her phone after the attack.

The court today found that the men were guilty of "continuous sexual abuse" of the woman in the lobby of a building in the early hours of July 7, 2016.

They were not found to be guilty of rape as under Spanish law rape must involve violence or intimidation.

The case drew controversy for the way the victim was treated during the trial.

It was criticised as putting the victim on trial rather than the accused.

The five members of La Manada (the wolfpack), the nickname they gave themselves, had offered to walk the woman to her car but instead took her into the lobby of a building and attacked her, filming the assault on their phones.

The men also took the woman's phone.

The defence lawyers argued during last year's proceedings that the young woman consented.

They argued that 96 seconds of the footage filmed from the men's phones, showing the woman immobile with her eyes shut during the attack, was proof of consent.

To support their argument, the defence produced a detective's report on her behaviour after the July 2016 rape.

Producing photographs of the woman smiling while with friends was presented as evidence that she had not suffered any lasting trauma.

This prompted hundreds of women to hold a demonstration outside the court.

Today's verdict came after five months of deliberation by the judges.

The woman's lawyer has said that she was disappointed and would be appealing the verdict.

A spokeswoman for the Navarre regional government stated that it did not agree with the verdict that was handed down and would also appeal.

A lawyer representing four of the men said they planned to appeal against their sentences saying that the court "can’t just come up with the offence of sexual abuse when it never formed the basis of the accusation and wasn’t something the defence could prepare for".

Members of the public, human rights groups and senior politicians have all spoken out to criticise the verdict with many taking to social media to voice their anger.

Shortly after the verdicts were handed down, Spain's national police force tweeted "No means no" 12 times, including their emergency phone number and the words "We're with you."

PA & Digital Desk

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