Protests in Spain as five men cleared of raping 18-year-old girl

The men, who called themselves the 'wolf pack' were found guilty of the lesser charge of sexual assault, after allegedly raping the girl during the running of the bulls in Pamplona 

Protestors holding up signs reading 'no means no. Justice' in front of the court. (Photo: Reuters)
Protestors holding up signs reading 'no means no. Justice' in front of the court. (Photo: Reuters)

Spanish feminist groups have announced protests across Spain after five men accused of the gang rape of a teenager during the running of the bulls festival in Pamplona were found guilty of the lesser charge of sexual assault.

The men were convicted of sexual abuse but were acquitted of the more serious crime of rape. All five have been sentenced to nine years in jail. They filmed their attack during Pamplona's San Fermín bull-running festival in July 2016.

Dozens of protesters outside the court criticised the verdict, shouting: "It's rape, not abuse."

Under Spanish law, the charge of sexual abuse differs from rape in that it does not involve violence or intimidation.

Several demonstrations have been called against the verdict and in support of the victim.

Videos of the late-night encounter between the men and the young woman showed how the five men had wandered the streets among other drunken revellers before two of them led her into the basement block of flats by the hand.

Some of them filmed the sexual act on their phones - there were seven videos, totalling 96 seconds. One of the men posted messages in a WhatsApp group celebrating what they had done and promising to share the recording.

According to the police report, the victim maintained a "passive or neutral" attitude throughout the scene, keeping her eyes closed at all times. Her phone was then stolen.

She was found in a reportedly distraught state by a couple in the street outside the scene of the attack. She told the trial she was still having psychological treatment to deal with trauma.

The five, in their late 20s and originally from Seville, and the victim, from Madrid, were not present when the judgement was read out after a five-month trial, which was held behind closed doors to protect the woman's identity.

Thursday’s verdict came after five months of deliberation by judges. Prosecutors had sought jail terms of 22 years each.

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