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Spanish equality minister to pay €18,000 after accusing man of abuse without proof

Spain's Equality Minister Irene Montero looks down during a press conference.
Spain's Equality Minister Irene Montero looks down during a press conference. Copyright Manu Fernandez/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright Manu Fernandez/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
By EFE
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The Supreme Court has ruled in favour of Rafael Marcos after "outrageous" allegations were levelled against him in public without any legal basis.

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Spain's Equality Minister has been ordered to pay €18,000 after portraying a man as an "abuser" during a public speech.

Irene Montero was sued by Rafael Marcos, the ex-husband of María Sevilla, the former president of Infancia Libre, an association helping mothers who suffered abuse.

Back in 2019, Sevilla abducted her son and lived with him in a rural area, where he received neither schooling nor contact with his father.

She was ultimately arrested and convicted of child abduction and the loss of parental rights. But as Spanish law only provides for mandatory imprisonment for convicted persons sentenced to more than two years, the government reduced her sentence to two years so that she would not have to go to prison.

Authorities also commuted her sentence for the withdrawal of parental rights from four years' imprisonment to 180 days of community service.

The equality minister alluded to the case in a speech last year during the inauguration of the headquarters of the Women's Institute, and also posted accusations against Marcos on her Twitter account.

“Protective mothers suffer unjustly," said the minister, "and in many cases, many of their rights are violated as they are criminalised by society, when what they are doing is nothing more than defending themselves and their sons and daughters against the macho violence of their abusers."

Marcos denounced Montero's statements after learning the government had partially pardoned Sevilla.

After she made her allegations, Marcos asked the minister for €85,000 in compensation for the violation of his 'right to honour'.

The Supreme Court ultimately concluded that the protection of honour takes precedence when "outrageous or offensive phrases and expressions" are used, and in this case there is "no judicial decision that allows us to conclude that the plaintiff is the author of episodes of gender or domestic violence, nor committing sexual abuse against his son.

"In fact, on the contrary, the sentences ruled state that he is not guilty", added the text.

Since Montero published video of her remarks on social media, the Supreme Court ordered her to spread the ruling on social media as well as compensating Marcos with €18,000.

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