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CRIME

Suspect goes on trial for UK woman’s beheading

A Bulgarian man with a history of mental health problems went on trial on Monday accused of decapitating a British grandmother at a shop on the Spanish holiday island of Tenerife.

Suspect goes on trial for UK woman's beheading
Deyanov is accused of stabbing and decapitating 60-year-old Jennifer Mills-Westley in May 2011. Photo: Desiree Martin/AFP

Deyan Valentinov Deyanov, 29, attended the opening hearing of the trial at the provincial court in Santa Cruz de Tenerife on Spain's Canary Islands accompanied by his lawyer, a court spokeswoman said.

"We don't know how long the trial will last," she said.

Prosecutors are expected to ask for a sentence of 20 years in a mental asylum for Deyanov because he has chronic paranoid schizophrenia and the payment of 200,000 euros ($267,000) in compensation to the victim's family.

Deyanov is accused of stabbing and decapitating 60-year-old Jennifer Mills-Westley inside a Chinese general goods store in the tourist spot of Los Cristianos beach in Arona on the southern side of Tenerife in May 2011.

Police arrested him as he was struggling with a security guard and trying to escape, reportedly shouting "God is on Earth".

Witnesses said they saw a man leave the store with the woman's bloodied head in his hand, which he then threw on the pavement.

The victim's daughters, Sarah Mears and Sam Gomes, said returning to Tenerife for the trial would be "daunting" and asked for the media to respect their privacy.

"On Friday 13th May 2011 our lives changed irrevocably when we heard the shocking news that our much loved mother had been brutally murdered in Tenerife," they said in a joint statement.

"Now, nearly two years later we will come face to face with the man who took her life that day and relive the heart breaking details of the events leading up to her untimely death.

"Going back to Tenerife not only is a daunting prospect but it will reopen our wounds," the statement added. 

Mills-Westley, originally from Norwich in eastern England, had been living in Tenerife after retiring from her job as a road safety officer. She had no relation to Deyanov.

Deyanov was released from a hospital in Tenerife where he received psychiatric treatment just three months before Mills-Westley was killed,
according to Spanish media reports.

In January 2011 he reportedy struck a security guard in the head with a rock, breaking several of his teeth.

Tenerife is home to around one million residents and is one of Spain's most popular tourist destinations.

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CRIME

Shock as Spain tells foreigners how to cancel their criminal record 

Spain's Justice Ministry has caused outrage after it sent out a tweet explaining how foreign nationals can cancel their criminal record online themselves in order to gain Spanish citizenship. 

Shock as Spain tells foreigners how to cancel their criminal record 

It may seem like a dark joke sent out by a disgruntled civil servant, but Spain’s Justice Ministry has indeed informed the country’s 6 million foreigners – including those who’ve committed crimes in the past – how to wipe their criminal history from the system.

“Criminal records can be a problem when it comes to obtaining Spanish nationality or applying for or renewing residence permits,” the ministry headed by Pilar Llop tweeted on Sunday. 

“Here we explain step by step how to request the cancellation of criminal records,” the Justice Ministry went on to say, followed by a link to a video describing the process. 

In the video posted on June 7th 2022, which has so far more than 24,000 views, a narrator goes on to explain that through the digital transformation process that the Justice Ministry is currently undergoing, it’s possible for anyone to personally and officially delete their own criminal record.

“That means that your sentence can be cancelled without you having to apply for it,” the video stressed.

This reportedly applies to both criminal records and sexual conviction records.

Logically, the tweet has caused a mix of incredulity and anger on the Spanish twittersphere, with comments such as “they’re mad”, “is it a joke?”, “God save us” or “instead of kicking foreign criminals out they’re helping them”.

The truth is that the possibility of expunging a criminal record in Spain has already existed for 27 years, as has the option of a foreigner with a criminal record being able to obtain Spanish nationality.

What has changed is the possibility of an automated system allowing citizens, Spanish nationals and foreigners alike, to carry out the expunging process online themselves, rather than having to apply for the Justice Ministry to do it for them. 

What’s also novel, many would say alarming, is that Spain’s Justice Ministry has made this public knowledge to many more people in Spain after their tweet went viral. 

Artículo 136 of Spain’s Penal Code allows people with a criminal record to cancel it once a certain period of time has elapsed and if they have not committed any other felony since the initial sentence. 

For those with minor sentences, the criminal record can be removed after six months whereas for serious crimes (5+ years in prison) the wait is ten years, higher if they’re charged with more than one crime. 

However, there doesn’t appear to be any lifetime prohibition from expunging criminal records for those who have committed the most heinous crimes, meaning that foreign rapists, murderers and paedophiles could technically cancel their criminal records if they met the aforementioned conditions and become Spanish nationals.

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