“La Manada”: an unusual sentence
As is well known, on Thursday April 26, 2018, finally and after much waiting, the 2nd Section of the Provincial Court of Pamplona read through its President the sentence handed down in the case known as “La Manada”, for events that occurred during the San Fermín Festival July 2017.
The sentence handed down, although not unanimously, by three professional magistrates, ABSOLVED the five defendants for the crime sexual assault SENTENCED them for a crime of sexual abuse with prevalence of a situation of superiority to 9 years in prison, compensation of €50,000, removal and accessories…
The dissenting magistrate, Ricardo González González, in a particular opinion longer than the The sentence itself, with a word that is extremely critical of the assessments of the evidence by his colleagues on the court, comes to consider that all the defendants should have been acquitted of all crimes with all the favorable pronouncements, by not not be their behaviors typifiable nor, therefore, deserving of any punishment… and even appreciates in the recordings a certain excitement typical of sexual joy on the part of the alleged victim…
The sentence was immediately publicly known through the media, it occurred both before the court itself and in many parts of Spain, a social reaction of absolute and indignant rejection, which was much more angry than expected, even with wide reflection in the international press.
The very precarious political situation that the Government justifiably suffers caused the Minister of Justice to leave quickly and swiftly in the face of such a generalized avalanche of social rejection to the fore to announce an upcoming reform of the Penal Code in relation to crimes against sexual freedom (cf. book II, title VIII penal code).
The issue that abruptly gave rise to the sentence of “La Manada” is inherent in the systemic suffering that our society suffers from the many < in>sexual assaults, mostly against women; and thoughtfully we believe that much more than the modification of the current criminal text, what corresponds to claim is the change of the prosecuting body, that is, the court that must interpret and apply the criminal law regarding sexual assaults.
In fact, this socially relevant trial body already exists: It is the Jury Court, rooted in the article 125 of the Constitution of 1978, and that due to a lack of political will and general opposition on the part of the judiciary, prosecutors and jurists of “recognized prestige”, it could not be brought to light. until May 1995, and, in fact, by law its scope of knowledge was reduced to a very few crimes, among which it was not considered appropriate to include (certainly due to distrust towards the reasoning capacity of Spanish citizens),those of “sexual assaults and abuses”…
The Popular Jury, reviled as a court of “laymen” by its many opponents, who also, when they criticize him do not want to remember that:
(1) it is always presided overby a professional Magistrate, who has absolute powers, even to dissolve it;
(2) that the so-called “laymen” are simply “non-jurists” , even if they are engineers, architects, doctors, economists, civil servants, cooks, gardeners, plumbers, housewives…etc.
(3) that to be a “juror” you have to go through many more personal filters than to be a judge, because judges, practically cannot be “recused” and, even, the court for reasons of “turn” –-< /strong>as happened in the case of “La Manada”–it can be made up exclusively of men in the case of sexual violence against a woman…Unlike a jury candidate, You can easily challenge him, even without stating the reason, and to challenge him you can ask him about “all his life and miracles…”
(4) Countries as solid as England and the USA, among many others, especially the Nordic countries, have based their Criminal Justice on the Jury for centuries … In fact, curiously, while in Navarra a professional court acquitted those accused of the crime of sexual assault, that same day, in the USA, a citizens jury made up of 7 men and 5 women , in Philadelphia, sentenced to 30 years in prison the famous octogenarian actor Bill Cosby, for old facts, from the year 2004 that they would already be prescribed in Spain and possibly less criminally and socially reprehensible than those attributed to “La Manada”. And with this we are not saying that the juries are not wrong… but they are wrong as citizens, as well as not “robeds” … when they are not wrong either…
At the end of the day, Justice, especially CRIMINAL due to its serious impact on the community, as we have seen in the case of “La Manada” , cannot be an exclusive attribute of the “togados”… and neither, as we have also seen, produce, due to its evident disconnection with social reality, the angry reaction of citizens, since Justice must necessarily be everyone’s business and the trial of issues as socially relevant and crucial as are sexual assaults, must remain, through an urgent penal reform in the field of knowledge of the Citizens Jury (ex art. 125 CE) , under the presidency of a professional Magistrate and, of course, with strict respect for all legal guarantees.