Spanish lawyer believed murdered by wife-killer she defended

A man found guilty of killing his wife in 2003 committed suicide on Friday after allegedly murdering the lawyer who had defended him and with whom he was in a relationship, Spanish authorities said.

Spanish lawyer believed murdered by wife-killer she defended
A file photo of residential buildings in Zaragoza. Photo: AFP

Spain's government has made combating gender violence a priority, but the nature of the case in Aragon prompted an emotional press conference by local officials.

“Investigators believe there was a personal relationship between the two” and family members confirmed it, local government representative Carmen Sanchez told reporters.

“It is therefore a crime of gender violence.”

The lawyer, Rebeca Santamalia, was found dead with knife wounds in the northeastern city of Zaragoza in the home of Jose Javier Salvado Calvo, Sanchez said.

Santamalia had defended Salvador Calvo during his trial in 2005 when he was sentenced to 18 years in prison for shooting dead his wife, she said.

A spokeswoman for the bar association in Zaragoza confirmed to AFP that Santamalia had defended him.

Salvador Calvo, who was released on parole in 2017, was found dead overnight between Thursday to Friday in Teruel where he had “jumped from a bridge,” according to the initial investigation.

Several hours later, police found the body of the 48-year-old lawyer in his home and believe he murdered her.

She was married and her husband had reported her disappearance on Thursday evening.

On Twitter, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez pledged to keep fighting against gender violence, saying “four women were murdered over the past days” in Spain by a partner, ex-partner or lover.

In 2018, 47 women were killed.

The fight against gender violence is one of the main government priorities in Spain and a pioneering law was adopted in 2004.

It set up a hotline that does not appear on users' phone bills, and also offered free legal aid and established special courts for victims.

READ ALSO: 2017 worst year on record for violence against women in Spain


Thousands across Spain protest against violence against women

Waving purple flags, several thousand protesters marched through Madrid and Barcelona on Thursday demanding an end to violence against women in a country where fighting domestic violence is a national priority.

Thousands across Spain protest against violence against women
People march during a demonstration marking the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 25, 2021 in Madrid. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)

The rally took place to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, with demonstrations also taking place in Valencia, Seville and other cities around Spain. 

In the Spanish capital, marchers wearing purple masks, hats and scarves walked behind a huge banner reading “Enough of male violence against women. Solutions now!”

“Not all of us are here, the murdered are missing,” they chanted as they marched past the Cibeles fountain and other historic buildings that had been illuminated in purple. 

“On a global level, it remains a scourge and a huge problem,” Leslie Hoguin, a 30-year-old student and actor told AFP. 

“It’s high time that patriarchal violence against our bodies, our lives and our decisions came to an end.”

Many were fed up of the ongoing abuse faced by women. 

People march during a demonstration marking the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 25th , 2021 in Barcelona. (Photo by LLUIS GENE / AFP)

“We are sick of the ongoing violence against us which takes many different forms,” said Maria Moran, a 50-year-old civil servant. 

“We want to see prostitution abolished and an end to the murders, the abuse and the rapes.”  

Spanish politicians have repeatedly sought to address domestic violence issues since 1997 when 60-year-old Ana Orantes was attacked, thrown over a balcony and then burned to death by her ex-husband after denouncing him on TV for repeated beatings.

Back in 2004, Spain’s parliament overwhelmingly approved Europe’s first law cracking down on gender-based violence.

“Eradicating sexist violence is a national priority,” tweeted Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

“We will only be a just society when we are done with all kinds of violence against women,” added Sanchez, a self-described feminist whose cabinet is dominated by women.

So far this year, 37 women in Spain have been killed by their partners or ex-partners, and 1,118 since 2003 when the government started keeping a tally.

Nearly one in three women worldwide has experienced physical or sexual violence, mostly by someone they know, according to UN Women, the United Nations’ organisation for gender equality.

“Violence against women is a global crisis. In all of our own neighbourhoods there are women and girls living in danger,” executive director Sima Bahous said in a video message.

Pope Francis also weighed in. 

“Women victims of violence must be protected by society,” he tweeted. 

“The various forms of mistreatment that many women suffer are cowardly and represent degradation for men and for all of humanity. We cannot look away.”