A group of four on trial this Tuesday accused of gang rape in Puerto Rico
Four foreign nationals are accused of allegedly participating in the group rape of a Danish woman in Puerto Rico de Gran Canaria, back at Christmas 2016. Their case is to be heard at the Second Section of the Provincial Court of Las Palmas next Tuesday and the accused face sentences of between nine and sixteen years in prison.
The brief of conclusions, from the Las Palmas Provincial Prosecutor’s Office, reveals that the first of the accused, a 30-year-old with the initials ME, was in the Puerto Rico shopping centre on December 25, 2016 and that at 5:30 a.m. he brought the alleged victim, who was in an intoxicated state “she could barely stand up” to a storage corridor on the second floor of the building. While there he “tried to kiss her and touched her breast” so the woman pushed him to “get away” from her and thereby showed her refusal to perform any sexual acts.
Immediately afterwards, ME. tried to pull a gold chain from her neck, which he was not able to do. He then continued to corner the victim against a wall where he raped her and then left the scene, leaving her stunned and semi-conscious. The accused then allegedly informed several others of the state she was in and where she was, still lying on the ground in a stupor.
At around 6:10 a.m. the second accused, AA., aged 30, went to where the victim was, and knowing the state she was in and, “in the company of another unidentified person,” raped her for “some 15 minutes ”while his companion kept look out, to avoid being discovered, when they finished they left the place.
But twenty-eight minutes later two more, BA., 29 years old, and IY., 36 years old, had also been told about the semi-unconscious girl lying in a drunken state, and they then too came to where she was to take advantage of her, explained the Public Prosecutor. Both of them are accused of raping the woman and allegedly took turns to keep watch “thereby facilitating the commission of the facts”, they took advantage of the fact that she remained immobile and was not aware of what they were doing to her.
From the evidence produced it seems the girl was raped a total of four times, during the hour and a half she was unconscious. What is worse, it appears these men may have all known each other. It appears that she only awoke after a fifth individual also attempted to rape her, she regained consciousness and struggled for more than two minutes until she was able to flee from her attacker.
In fact, the victim had only reported a single attack, but it was the Judicial Police Team and the Guardia Civil Main Post in Puerto Rico de Gran Canaria, Mogán, who detained the four suspected assailants, 10 months later, in October 2017, after the had reviewed the security videos and realised that what had actually happened to the tourist was even worse than she had believed, according to statements from the Guardia Civil.
It was only after an intense investigation, over many months, carried out by the Guardia Civil, that they were able to identify all the participants, with added complications caused by the fact that some of the men being investigated were in an irregular situation and their location not known.
The Prosecutor’s Office has asked for different sentences for each of the perpetrators, in the case of ME. 12 years and nine months in prison for the crime of sexual assault and another of attempted robbery with violence. For AA. a nine-year sentence for sexual abuse. While BA. and IY. each face 16 years in prison for the crimes of sexual abuse and for being necessary cooperators in the crimes committed by both of them, each having done the surveillance work while they took turns raping her.
Likewise, it has been requested that those investigated be expelled from the national territory once they are granted, if convicted, their conditional freedom, through parole, since they are all of Moroccan origin. The prosecutor asks that the victim be compensated with €100,000, as part of public liability, for which the four defendants would be jointly and severally liable.
This is a deeply shocking and disturbing story of apparently toxic male behaviour, in a public space, seeming to think that they can act with impunity. The evidence gathered by the Guardia Civil appears to be pretty damning and we will find out how they are dealt with at the hearing. If found guilty they deserve little by way of mercy nor understanding.
The story that appears to have unfolded can have no mitigating circumstances, as the repeated and compounded crimes may well have been caught on camera, and these men would have wilfully, and with no regard whatsoever for their victim, subjected her to the most horrifyingly brutal criminality. If the facts are established, they should bear the brunt of the full wrath of Spanish justice, and then be removed from this country, never to return, while spending the rest of their lives repaying the financial damages that most surely must be awarded to the victim.
Some element of responsibility, however, must too be attributed to the so-called security teams employed by the Centro Comercial y Civico Puerto Rico, on whose watch this happened.
For many years it has been known well that petty criminal gangs have been left free to roam the shopping centre at night, with plenty of witnesses, including business owners, who could testify to seeing, with their own eyes, bribes and other incentives being accepted, by working security guards, in exchange for turning a blind eye to potential extortion and drug dealing, amongst other crimes, around the various night spots within the centre.
While that may be acceptable to many liberal minded types, as a natural part of the night life economy, what cannot be accepted is that if one of our visitors, not least a girl on her own, finds herself in a compromised position, due to drink, or whatever, and that the danger of her passing out is compounded by the fact that no one will notice for more than an hour and a half, if she falls unconscious on the floor of the centre, while she is repeatedly abused by multiple individuals, likely all connected to a known group who frequent the area.
Puerto Rico de Gran Canaria is, and remains, one of the very safest destinations in the world. Crime here is lower than practically anywhere in Europe, and on the islands has in fact fallen by more than 11% over the last year. We all know that there are people who overindulge in all the cheap booze, and that there are little gangs selling drugs at night around the centre, and all of that is mostly harmless; but none of that acceptance can excuse the extreme complacency that has led so directly to such a degrading series of serious assaults on an innocent young woman.
For all of the recent noise we hear about safety and security in Puerto Rico de Gran Canaria, it seems clear that there are many problems that have existed for years unmentioned. Much greater pressure must be applied to all those responsible for keeping us all safe at night, and on a night out, to uphold the highest standards in our duty of care to our visitors and patrons.
This has nothing to do with nationality, and everything to do with toxic male attitudes and how well we work together as a community to ensure that, whatever the cheap thrills we sell to tourists are, that they do not become the very same reasons that people find themselves in compromising and life threatening situations without anyone to notice or to help. We all have a responsibility to make sure that nothing like this can happen again, and we start with a clear message to all men, either you are part of the problem, or you need to be part of the solution.