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DOMESTIC ABUSE

Plight of mother-of-two ‘abuse victim’ shakes Spain

The plight of a Spanish woman who vanished with her children after defying a court order to hand them over to her Italian ex-partner, found guilty of domestic violence, has shaken the country.

Plight of mother-of-two 'abuse victim' shakes Spain
Juana Rivas during a press conference last week. Photo: Alex Camara/AFP

The case burst into the limelight this week just as lawmakers agreed a series of measures to tackle abuse against women, in a country that has made the struggle against domestic violence a priority.

Juana Rivas, a woman in her mid-30s from Maracena in southern Spain, was living in Italy with her partner when she took both their sons – aged 3 and 11 – away in May 2016 and never returned, alleging abuse.

According to the Maracena municipal women's centre which is representing her, she had suffered  “psychological and physical violence.”

Her ex-partner, who was found guilty of abusing her in 2009, filed a complaint for child abduction, according to Andalusia's high court, which oversees all courts in the southern region including the one that has dealt with the case.

In an interview with Italy's Ansa news agency, he denied any violence.

“I want to be able to hold my children again in my arms, I haven't seen them since last year,” he said.

A Spanish court subsequently decided the children should return to Italy, arguing among other things that the eldest boy was evaluated by psychologists and did not show any indication of not wanting to see his father.

Rivas appealed but this was rejected and the court ordered her to hand over the children on Wednesday, July 26th.

'Defend them'

Footage of Rivas earlier this week showed her in tears as she appealed to the media.

“If they want to steal them from me, I will defend them until my last breath,” she told reporters.

On Wednesday, she never turned up and has remained in hiding ever since with her children.

The case has sparked an outpouring of support for Rivas, not only from fellow residents in Maracena, but further afield in Spain.

Netizens have taken to Twitter to pledge their support with the hashtags #Juanaestaenmicasa (Juana is in my house) or #YoSoyJuana (I am Juana) and a petition launched on Change.org in December 2016 has garnered more than 208,000 signatures.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy told reporters “you have to put yourself in the place of this mother” when asked about the case.

“She had to go live in Italy, come back, she's been assaulted twice, her husband was sentenced by the courts,” he said.

But in the Ansa interview, her ex-partner accused her of organising a media campaign against him.

The court in charge of the case has ordered both parties to appear at a hearing on August 8th to decide how to proceed.

By Marianne Barriaux

CH

Real Madrid 1-1 Man Utd: De Gea steals the show

Manchester United's 22-year-old keeper David de Gea made several top-class saves as Alex Ferguson's side secured a 1-1 first-leg Champions League draw in the Bernabeu.

Real Madrid 1-1 Man Utd: De Gea steals the show
David de Gea reacts after his outstanding performance against Real Madrid. Photo: Dani Pozo/AFP

"It is your night," ran the headline of Madrid sports daily Marca next to a giant picture of Cristiano Ronaldo ahead of the star's first encounter with Manchester United, the club he left three and a half years ago.

Ronaldo, almost inevitably, did have his moment as he soared above a stranded Patrice Evra at the back post to majestically head home his seventh Champions League goal in as many games this season.

But on a pitch filled with stellar attacking talent, it was a Spanish goalkeeper making a return of his own, to his home city, who was the star of the show as the Champions League tie ended 1-1.

Photo: Dani Pozo/AFP

David de Gea had only ever suffered heartbreak, as most Atletico Madrid keepers do, against Real Madrid in his time with Real's city rivals.

But just five minutes into the widely-anticipated Champions League last-16 tie he diverted Fabio Coentrao's goalbound effort onto the post to keep United from sinking under an early Madrid storm.

Once that initial burst had been weathered, it was they who found the net first as the Spanish champions' Achilles heel for the past two seasons, defending set-pieces, was again exposed as Danny Welbeck directed Wayne Rooney's corner into the net.

Ten minutes later the moment United feared duly arrived as Ronaldo hung in the air a good three feet above his former French colleague to glance in a header so accurate even De Gea couldn't reach it.

With the tide now turned again and Madrid charging forward, De Gea continued to thwart chance after chance. 

Coentrao, the man who has just one goal in his whole Real Madrid career, was left wondering how he didn't have two for the night as De Gea stretched out a long gangly leg to unconventionally turn away the Portuguese full-back's back-post effort from Sami Khedira's cross.

Several other top-class saves by the 22-year old keeper ensured his team stands in good stead for the return leg at Old Trafford. 

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