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CRIME

‘Stepmother’ jailed for life in Spain for killing 8-year-old Gabriel

A Dominican woman was sentenced Monday to life in prison in Spain for murdering the eight-year-old son of her Spanish partner in a case that shocked the country.

'Stepmother' jailed for life in Spain for killing 8-year-old Gabriel
Ana Julia Quezada was found guilty of killing Gabriel Cruz and hiding his body.

A jury in Almeria in southern Spain last month found Ana Julia Quezada guilty of killing the boy, who was the son of her then partner Angel Cruz.  A court on Monday handed down a life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years, the stiffest possible jail term under Spanish law.   

Gabriel Cruz disappeared on February 27, 2018, after visiting his grandmother in Las Hortichuelas, a village near the coast 50 kilometres (30 miles) east of Almeria.

His disappearance triggered a massive search involving hundreds of volunteers which lasted nearly two weeks.

But on March 11th, the police discovered the boy's body in the boot of a car belonging to Quezada, who had been seen taking part in the search, wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with his face and speaking to reporters in tears.

He had been asphyxiated, according to the court.

Investigators began to suspect Quezada after she found a shirt belonging to the boy near the village in an area which police had searched twice.   

The case received nationwide attention after a missing person's alert went viral. An image of a blue fish — inspired by Gabriel's love of the sea — was shared on social media with the hashtag #TodosSomosGabriel, meaning “we are all Gabriel”.


Carla Navarro/ Twitter

During the trial Quezada said she had accidentally killed the boy when she covered his mouth in an attempt to silence him.

The court also ordered her to pay €250,000  ($273,000) each to the boy's mother and father for “psychological damages”, as well as €200,203 to the Spanish state to cover the costs of the search for the child.   

“Psychopaths should be locked away, far from society, so they can't hurt anyone,” the boy's father told reporters last month after the jury found her guilty.

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CRIME

Panel begins probing child abuse within Spain’s Catholic Church

An independent commission that is to conduct Spain's first official probe into suspected sexual abuse of minors within the Catholic Church met for the first time on Tuesday.

Panel begins probing child abuse within Spain's Catholic Church

Unlike in many other nations where the government or the Church itself has opened an investigation into such abuses, Spain has only recently made moves to follow suit with lawmakers in March backing the creation of an independent commission.

The independent panel is made up of 20 people, mostly experts, but does not include representatives of the Church.

Spain’s ombudsman, Angel Gabilondo, who is in charge of the probe, on Tuesday “presided over the first constitutive meeting” of the commission, his office said in a statement.

The aim is to “prepare a report on sexual violence within the Catholic Church and the role of the public authorities”, it said, indicating that the panel included 17 experts “with experience in victimology, in the care of victims and legal knowledge”.

There is no deadline for completion of the report.

The initial idea was that members of the clergy would be on the committee but Spain’s Catholic Church said it would not directly participate although it would “collaborate with the authorities, providing all available information about the cases under investigation”.

It believes the commission should be looking into cases involving the abuse of minors within all of Spanish society and not just the Catholic Church.

Long accused by victims of stonewalling and denial, the Spanish Church in February tasked a private law firm with an “audit” into past and present sexual abuse by the clergy, teachers and others associated with the Church.

With no official statistics on child sex abuse within the Church, Spain’s El País newspaper began investigating allegations in 2018.

It has so far counted nearly 1,600 victims.

In March, the Spanish Church said it had discovered more than 500 cases of child sex abuse through a complaints procedure launched in 2020.

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