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SPANISH LAW

‘Only yes means yes’: Spain edges closer to passing new sexual consent law

Spain’s Senate on Tuesday backed a bill toughening the country's rape laws by requiring explicit consent for sex acts, a reform the government promised following a gang rape that sparked widespread outrage.

SPAIN-CRIME-RAPE-TRIAL-DEMO
Demonstrators hold a sign reading "No means no" during a protest in 2018 against the acquittal of five men accused of gang raping an 18-year-old woman.The judge’s ruling, which interpreted the victim’s silent as consent, highlighted how under Spain's criminal code rape had to involve violence or intimidation, which in turn led to huge protests across the country to demand reform.(Photo by ANDER GILLENEA / AFP) involve violence or intimidation, led to huge protests across the country to demand reform.(Photo by ANDER GILLENEA / AFP)

It calls for Spain’s criminal code to be reformed to define rape as sex without clear consent. Crucially, that removes the need for rape victims to prove that they resisted or were subject to violence or intimidation.

“Consent is recognised only when a person has freely demonstrated it through actions which, in the context of the circumstances of the case, clearly express the person’s will,” says the bill.

The proposed reform comes after of a notorious 2016 gang rape of an 18-year-old woman by five men at the bull-running festival in Pamplona, northern Spain.

The men — who called themselves the “wolf pack” – were initially convicted of “sexual abuse” and not rape. That lesser offence will disappear from the criminal code if the bill becomes law.

Two of the men filmed the assault, during which the woman is shown silent and passive — a fact the judges interpreted as consent.

That ruling, which highlighted how under Spain’s criminal code rape had to involve violence or intimidation, led to huge protests across the country to demand reform.

In 2019, the Supreme Court overturned the verdict, convicting all five of rape and increasing their sentences from nine years to 15 years each.

Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez — a self-described feminist — vowed to introduce a law on consent aimed at removing ambiguity in rape cases when he took office in June 2018.

“We don’t want any more ‘wolf packs’, neither for us, nor for our daughters,” Donelia Roldan Martinez, a senator with the Socialist party, told the Senate before it approved the bill.

The lower house of parliament adopted the text in a first reading in May.

But the bill — dubbed the “Only yes is yes” law — still has to go back to Spain’s lower house of parliament after the Senate unexpectedly backed an amendment.

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CRIME

Spanish court approves extradition of UK murder suspect

A court in Spain has approved the extradition of one of Britain's most wanted fugitives, sought for his suspected role in the murder of a teenager in 2015.

Spanish court approves extradition of UK murder suspect

The decision will now go before the country’s cabinet for approval.

Spanish police arrested David Ungi in May in the town of Coin near the southern resort of Marbella on May 5th as he signed up at a gym at a shopping centre.

British police believe Ungi, 30, was involved in the fatal shooting in 2015 in Liverpool of 18-year-old Vinny Waddington.

Ungi, who left Britain less than 24 hours after Waddington was killed, is also wanted by the British authorities for alleged heroin trafficking.

Spanish police carried out the operation to arrest Ungi in cooperation with Britain’s National Crime Agency, which had put Ungi on its most-wanted list.

The Spanish coast has long been a popular bolthole for British criminals fleeing the law, because they can blend easily into the thriving expatriate communities.

There are about 290,000 British nationals officially registered as living in Spain, making them the fourth-largest foreign population in the country, according to national statistics institute INE.

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