SPAIN: Spain’s Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, apologised to sexual abuse victims in an interview that was released on Sunday over a sexual violence statute that contained a loophole that enabled at least 978 criminals who were already in jail to have their sentences reduced or terminated early.
The “Only Yes Is Yes” statute, which emerged partly as a response to public outcry over the so-called Wolf Pack case, focused on consent and was intended to handle cases where defendants were found guilty of the less serious offence of sexual abuse because victims had not rebelled out of fear.
However, because Spain’s new legislation holds a lower minimum penalty—the outcome of combining the crimes of sexual abuse and aggression—it has enabled some offenders convicted before it went into force to successfully seek lowered sentences or early release.
The General Council of the Judiciary, the highest body of judges, reported last week that since the law was passed in October, sentences in 978 cases have been lowered, and 104 prisoners have been released early as of March 31.
“Some of these releases or reviews are not final; they can still be appealed.” “But in any case, there has been an undesired effect that we have to resolve,” Sanchez stated in an interview. “If we have to apologise to the victims, I apologise to the victims,” he said.
The issue has splintered the three-year-old coalition, with the Socialists eager to amend the statute but their ruling partners, Unidas Podemos, opposing their recommendations.
Combating gender violence had been a top priority for the coalition since the “Wolf Pack” case, in which five men going by that moniker were imprisoned in 2018 for the lesser offence of sexual abuse after gang-raping a young woman in 2016 at the Pamplona bull-running festival.