A Spanish court’s controversial decision to clear five men of gang rape has been upheld by five appeal judges, and the group are now set to go to jail for a lesser offence of sexual abuse.
There were protests across Spain when the men, who became known as La manada (the wolf pack), were acquitted of rape and then later freed on bail.
The appeal judges agreed that the 18-year-old victim was not assaulted as no intimidation or violence was involved.
The case now goes to the Supreme Court.
“We don’t like it,” the teenager’s lawyer said, after the five judges in the northern Navarre region upheld the nine-year jail terms for abuse.
Under current Spanish law, an offence of rape has to involve sexual assault, which includes violence or intimidation.
Significantly, two of the five judges said that the attackers had used intimidation to carry out a “continuous offence of sexual assault” and called for 14-year jail terms. But they were outvoted by the other three judges.
The case sparked such a wave of revulsion that a committee of experts was formed to reform Spain’s penal code on sexual violence.
Among those outraged by the verdict was Pedro Sánchez, who has since become prime minister and has promised to introduce a new law on sexual consent.