The Prosecutor’s Office has asked the Supreme Court to accept the appeals of Pablo Echenique and Juanma del Olmo and withdraw their convictions for stating in 2019 that the Podemos candidate for Ávila, Pilar Baeza, had been raped by a man who was later murdered by her boyfriend and a friend. The Public Ministry supports the appeal of the parliamentary spokesman for Podemos and the party’s then communication secretary, sentenced to pay 80,000 euros to the family of the murdered man.
Echenique and Del Olmo, convicted for saying that a Podemos candidate was raped 35 years ago by a young man who was later murdered
The statements of both were made in 2019 after it emerged that Pilar Baeza, Podemos candidate for mayor of Ávila, had been convicted in the 1980s for participating in a murder. According to the firm sentence of Justice, Baeza planned with her partner and a friend of hers the murder of a man whom she accused of rape. That sexual crime was never proven in court and the body of the murdered man, Manuel López, was found in a well in 1985. She was sentenced to three decades in prison for providing them with the weapon.
After the publication of the information, the leaders of the purple formation reacted to defend their candidate for mayor and her version of events. “We are talking about events that took place 35 years ago, which refer to a woman who was raped,” Echenique said. For her part, Juanma del Olmo, then a deputy, wrote a tweet that could read, among other things: “her 35 years ago she was the victim of rape. Her boyfriend then shot the man who raped her. She was convicted of complicity and paid her debt to society”.
The Provincial Court of Madrid confirmed last year the sentence imposed by a court: compensation of 80,000 euros for the relatives of the victim of the crime for attacking their honor. The judges understood that he was not a public person and that, furthermore, that sexual assault denounced by Baeza was never proven.
Now it is the Prosecutor’s Office that, once again, supports an appeal by Echenique and Del Olmo and asks the civil chamber of the Supreme Court to withdraw their conviction. A position that has been maintained since the start of the process. “The facts had already been publicized, highlighting in a prominent place the version maintained by the victim within the beginning of the electoral campaign by some media and, in this context, it is where the manifestations of the defendants take place, both members of the Party that supports the candidacy of Mrs. Baeza”, explains the Prosecutor’s Office.
The Public Ministry acknowledges that it would have been “more in line with reality” to say that “she claimed to have been raped” and not take her version for granted, but these statements were made during the electoral campaign. “They are clearly carried out in an electoral context to support their candidate and in a closed defense of her and although they do not question the violation, in their statements they do not attribute the crime to any person or identify them, but instead focus on his candidate ”, explains the Prosecutor’s Office.
They, says the Public Ministry, did not point to the deceased or give more publicity to some facts that already had it. “The fact that he can be identified from the extensive information previously released cannot be attributed to the appellants. Nor do they divulge or publicize these facts, which were already the subject of extensive media coverage,” he says. In addition, since the affected person is a deceased person, says the Prosecutor’s Office, “the intensity of the protection of his honor is reduced.”
Therefore, the Prosecutor’s Office asks the civil chamber of the Supreme Court to withdraw the economic sentence of 80,000 euros as their freedom of expression prevails. “The prevalence of the right to freedom of expression over the right to honor of the deceased must be maintained, considering that the specific weighting carried out by the appealed judgment does not take into account all these concurrent circumstances, the electoral context in which they occur, the content of the manifestations and, in short, to the jurisprudential doctrine exposed previously”, says the letter that the judges will now analyze.