Three men were arrested and charged with sexual assault after having allegedly gang-raped a young woman in a hotel, in the Santa Catalina area of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on Thursday, March 16, 2023. The woman, who is 21 years old, reported the incident at the hotel’s reception, claiming that she had been raped by the men and could not remember anything after accepting a drink from them.
Police began an investigation into the incident, which led to the arrest of the three men, of German and Italian origin, aged 46, 28, and 25. On Saturday, March 18, the presiding judge at the Las Palmas de Gran Canaria court ordered the three men to be held in custody without bail. The detainees are facing charges of sexual assault, and it is alleged that they acted in concert.
The Office of Communication of the Superior Court of Justice of the Canary Islands has announced that a forensic doctor took blood samples from the victim to determine if there were any traces of drugs in her system. The blood samples were sent to a toxicology lab in Tenerife for testing.
The magistrate Judge Rafael Passaro, head of Court number 2 of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, decreed pretrial detention based on the victim’s statement, the medical reports of her injuries and the images from the hotel’s surveillance cameras, where the young woman is observed staggering into the hotel, with her alleged rapists, and then leaving the room hours later half naked and terrified, then running to ask for help at the reception. The young woman fled after the two Germans had left the room.
Hotel staff attended to her quickly and within minutes an ambulance and police officers arrived, who arrested the alleged sexual offenders. The victim had to be attended by emergency services both physically and psychologically.
The alleged aggression occurred on Thursday morning. The victim reported that she had been walking along Las Canteras beach when the three alleged rapists approached her, inviting her to have a drink. After they repeatedly insisted the young woman says she agreed and drank a few shots of something with them. Either because of the alcohol, or the possibility that they introduced drugs into the drink, the victim began to feel unwell, and says she hardly remembers having walked with her alleged attackers to the hotel.
The magistrate highlighted the seriousness of the crime investigated and the possibility that, being foreigners, that the accused may try to flee so as not to answer to justice, so ordered provisional detention without bail of the three men.
Recent numbers of reported sexual assaults in the Canary Islands have been alarming, with a 22.5% increase in these types of crimes reported in 2022 compared to 2021 and a 35.2% increase compared to 2019. The Ministry of the Interior tentatively attributes the increase to the growing awareness of the public regarding the issue and the subsequent willingness of victims to come forward and report the crimes.
The increase in awareness about sexual assault and related offences has been accompanied by active political and social efforts to reduce any tolerance of such crimes. The government has implemented measures to encourage victims to come forward and report any crimes they have suffered or witnessed.
The Ministry of Health has been working on a new policy that will allow victims of sexual assault to receive medical attention and undergo necessary tests without having to report the incident to the police. This approach helps the victims receive the treatment they need without having to go through the trauma of reporting the crime to the authorities.
Furthermore, the passage of the Solo Sí es Sí Law (Only Yes is Yes) has been another key effort to combat sexual assault in the country. This law aims to protect women from sexual violence and empower them to take action against perpetrators. The law provides that any sexual act without explicit consent can be considered rape.
The law also mandates that hospitals and medical facilities provide emergency medical care and support for victims of sexual violence, even if the victim chooses not to file a complaint with the authorities.
Following the incident in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria last Thursday, authorities and activists are calling for stricter measures to combat sexual assault and to ensure the safety of women. The police are urging the public to be vigilant and to report any suspicious behaviour that could potentially lead to sexual assault.
The local government is also considering the establishment of more centres for the victims of sexual assault to receive support and counselling. There is a pressing need to provide women with more resources to protect themselves from sexual violence and to provide them with support when they do become victims.
This latest incident serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need to combat sexual assault across the country. It is important to continue to raise awareness about the issue and to empower women to speak out against the crimes committed against them. Sex without proper consent is rape.
In this particular instance the alleged victim claims she was persuaded to accept a drink, which she had initially turned down, and then came to her senses several hours later, escaping to seek help from the hotel reception. When the police arrived the alleged perpetrators were all naked, but in their own respective rooms. It seems enough preliminary evidence has been found to continue to hold them while further investigations are carried out.