Spanish law was not to blame for a controversial ruling this week that saw five men accused of gang-raping an 18-year-old woman convicted of the lesser crime of sexual abuse instead, according to the victim’s lawyer. Speaking to Euronews, he blamed the judges’ interpretation of the law for their decision.
The men, including a former policeman and a former soldier, filmed the attack at Pamplona’s San Fermin bull-running festival in July 2016, where they surrounded the woman, removed her clothes and had unprotected sex, according to a police report.
The ruling on Thursday sparked protests across Spain, where participants chanted “It’s not abuse, it’s rape” and called for changes to the law under which sexual abuse differs from rape in that it does not involve violence or intimidation.
However, lawyer Carlos Bacaicoa argued that the law was not the problem, explaining that evidence showed there had been intimidation.
The state prosecutor had asked for prison sentences of more than 20 years for each of the men, but they instead received nine.
Bacaicoa said he “expected anything”, including a total acquittal, in the case.
"There is a magistrate who from the beginning showed his true colors and that he was going to vote for acquittal”, he said.
“It is known what he thinks of those issues of sexual assault and abuse," he added without mentioning any names, but likely referring to Judge Ricardo González who had described the attack as "sexual acts in an atmosphere of revelry”.
The offenders, dubbed the “Wolf Pack” after the name of their WhatsApp group, argued the incident was a case of consensual group sex.
Bacaicoa said the woman will now appeal the verdict.
Regarding the impact the controversial case has had on him, the lawyer said it has “destroyed” his professional life.
“I have received unjust pressure and I will never be the same," he told Euronews, citing false reports in the media.
"I didn't think I was going to see so much unfair play and pressure."