22nd June 2024
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One of Spain’s ‘wolf pack’ rapists has sentence reduced due to legal loophole

Ángel Boza, one of the five men convicted in the landmark ‘Wolf Pack’ (La Manada) gang rape case in Spain, has had his sentence reduced by one year – from 15 to 14 years – a top regional court in Navarra has announced. The decision can be appealed before the Supreme Court.

Boza’s jail term was reduced due to a loophole in the controversial new ‘Only Yes is Yes’ rape law.

The new legislation was introduced by the Ministry of Equality last November in a bid to toughen up penalties for sexual crimes, but it has allowed some convicted offenders to reduce their sentences. 

It was in force for six months until the Spanish government imposed an urgent amendment to close this loophole. ALSO READ: Pedro Sánchez apologises to victims over government’s rape law loophole.

Some 1,100 sex offenders had their sentences reduced during this time, including 115 people who were released from prison because their sentences were brought forward.

Boza’s lawyer worked on an appeal to reduce his sentence while the law was still in force, which the court ruled on this week 

The legislation was drawn up after the 2016 ‘Wolf Pack’ when Boza and four other men raped an 18-year-old woman during the San Fermin bull-running festival in Pamplona.

The ‘Wolf Pack’ case stirred massive protests across Spain and calls for legal changes after the five defendants were initially convicted of the lesser crime of sexual abuse because the 18-year-old victim did not resist out of fear. It led to the Ministry of Equality changing the law.

The approval of the new law classified all non-consensual sex as rape. However, it also set lighter minimum sentences for certain sexual crimes – the result of merging the crimes of sexual abuse and aggression – inadvertently benefiting some convicted criminals.

Boza himself has benefited from the new legislation that was drafted in the wake of the public outcry. He was the only one of the five ‘Wolf Pack’ members who could appeal.

When the Supreme Court tried him in 2019, it imposed a sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment. This sentence was in proximity to the legal minimum established at the time.

The ‘Only Yes is Yes’ law reduced the legal minimum sentence from 14 to 13 years, so the court considered it appropriate to reduce Boza’s time behind bars. 

Even though the amendment was later changed, and although Boza had already been tried, Spain’s Criminal Code establishes a principle that allows new criminal laws to be retroactively applied – only if doing so benefits the defendant.

In an interview with Canal Sur radio, Boza’s lawyer said it was ‘perfectly possible’ for his sentence to be reduced.

‘The minimum sentences have been reduced and the one handed down at the time by the Supreme Court specifically referred to applying the minimum penalty [to Boza]. With that minimum having been modified, I understand that the application of the current norm is more favourable.’

In the same interview, Boza’s lawyer said that what the new ‘only yes is yes’ law had achieved was ‘absolutely absurd’.

Irene Montero, Spain’s acting Minister of Equality, who promoted the new law, but has since faced fierce criticism from opposition parties, civil society, legal organisations and even her political allies for its failings. 

In a recent televised interview, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez claimed it was the biggest mistake his government made.

The right-wing and far-right opposition parties made the ‘only yes is yes’ fiasco one of the centrepoints of its criticism of the socialist-led leftist coalition government in the run-up to the 23 July, which resulted in a hung parliament and could still lead to a repeat ballot.

ALSO READ: Spanish minister accuses judges of ‘machismo’ after loophole in Spain’s new rape law used to reduce sentences.

Women protest
‘No is no’ – an image captured during a demonstration in Valencia in June 2018. (Jose Jordan / AFP)

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