Pamplona assures women its bull-running festival safe after “Wolf Pack” assault

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Pamplona wants to reassure women they will be safe from abuse during the bull-running festival that starts in the Spanish city this week, countering calls to boycott the event in protest at a failed rape prosecution.

Five men, who called themselves “The Wolf Pack”, were cleared in April of raping an 18-year-old woman at the festival in 2016, and convicted of the lesser crime of sexual abuse.

The ruling was met by a wave of protests that was renewed when the men were released on bail last month.

Ahead of Friday’s launch of the alcohol-fuelled event, where mostly men volunteer to be chased by bulls down narrow streets, suggestions of a boycott circulated on social media.

“Faced with calls not to come to the festival, I would make a call to women that Pamplona is a city whose institutions and society have said they will not allow assaults,” said councillor Itziar Gomez.

The municipality, started campaigning for festivals free from sexist assaults in 2014, building an infrastructure which now includes helplines in dozens of languages to deal with incidents.

This year it launched an app that lets people tell police at the touch of a button if they suffer or witness a sexual assault, with a signal for officers to locate them.

“We’ve become a city with an extremely high level of awareness,” Gomez said, adding that women were increasingly reporting assaults such as groping.

Rather than boycotting the bull run, some women plan to show their anger by wearing black instead of the traditional white.

“Now more than ever we women have to fill the streets, fill the fiestas and fill the night, because you will have that assurance that there are women in the street with you,” said former city councillor for equality Laura Berro.

The Wolf Pack case has raised awareness about sexual assault throughout Spain where chants of “I believe you, sister” and “Drunk and alone, I want to get home” ringing out across town squares have taken on a similar weight to the #MeToo hashtag that originated in the United States.

Spain’s new prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, appointed a female-dominated cabinet, reinstated a ministry for equality and pledged gender equality training for judges and a review of the legal definition of sex crimes.

Altamira Gonzalo Valganon of Themis, an organisation of female legal experts, said: “Judges in this country are generally cut off from social reality, have been educated in a patriarchal system, and have more empathy with men than women.”

In Pamplona, bartender Maitane Hermoso de Mendoza, 26, said she hoped some good would come of the Wolf Pack debacle.

“After this case, people are taking all these things more seriously. It’s sad to say, but it has served to make people more aware of what’s going on.”

The post Pamplona assures women its bull-running festival safe after “Wolf Pack” assault appeared first on SABC News – Breaking news, special reports, world, business, sport coverage of all South African current events. Africa's news leader..

Source: SABCNews

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy ousted in no-confidence vote

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Spain’s parliament on Friday ousted Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in a no-confidence vote sparked by fury over his party’s corruption woes, with his Socialist arch-rival Pedro Sanchez automatically taking over. An absolute majority of 180 lawmakers voted for the motion to loud applause and shouts of “Yes we can,” converting Rajoy into the first prime
Source: The New Age

Spain court rules proposed Catalan leader must stay in jail

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Spain’s Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a request by Catalonia’s pro-independence presidential candidate Jordi Sanchez to be let out of jail and sworn in as regional head.

The Catalan parliament had been scheduled to hold a debate and vote on Sanchez’s candidacy on Friday, but after the court’s ruling Catalan parliament speaker Roger Torrent announced on Twitter he had suspended the session indefinitely.

Sanchez was remanded in custody in October pending charges over his role in last year’s failed Catalan independence bid.

An attempt to appoint him as president failed last month after Spain’s Supreme Court turned down a request for his release from jail.

But Torrent put Sanchez’s name forward as a candidate again earlier this month after the United Nations Human Rights Committee defended his political rights.

In letters sent last month to Spanish authorities and Sanchez’s lawyers, the UN committee requested the state take all steps to ensure he is allowed to exercise his political rights.

Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena once again turned down Sanchez’s request, arguing there were signs that he could “move in the direction of a rupture of the constitutional order”.

The judge argues it was justified in limiting Sanchez’s political rights given the risk that his release would pose to the collective rights “of the rest of the community”.

Torrent had appealed earlier on Thursday for the judge to agree to let Sanchez, a former leader of influential grassroots independence group ANC who was elected to the Catalan parliament in snap polls in December, leave jail to be sworn in.

“The court has the opportunity to take note of international law and the protection of political rights or write another dark chapter in the history of the Supreme Court,” he said in an interview to news radio station Cadena Ser.

The court ruling comes as Barcelona is gearing up for a huge protest on Sunday to mark the six month anniversary of the jailing of Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, the leader of another separatist organisation.

Catalonia in political limbo

Catalonia has been in political limbo since Spain’s conservative central government imposed direct rule on the region after it unilaterally declared independence in October.

Fresh regional elections will be triggered if a new leader is not elected by May 22.

Separately, the National Court, which handles terrorism and other top criminal cases, released a woman who was arrested on Tuesday for “rebellion” and “terrorism” in a probe of pro-independence activists in Catalonia.

National Court judge Diego de Egea dismissed those two charges against her, saying she should instead be prosecuted for the lesser crime of causing public disorder, which carries a possible jail sentence of between six months and six years.

The woman is allegedly a member of the radical pro-independence activist groups called the Committees for the Defence of the Republic (CDR) which formed last year before an independence referendum on October 1.

In recent weeks, the groups have protested against the jailing of pro-independence Catalan leaders and the detention of former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont in Germany by blocking major roads in Catalonia, sometimes with burning tires.

At the end of March, the protesters blocked major roads in Catalonia and tried to occupy the central government’s representative office, heavily guarded by police, on several occasions. The resulting clashes left dozens injured.


The post Spain court rules proposed Catalan leader must stay in jail appeared first on SABC News – Breaking news, special reports, world, business, sport coverage of all South African current events. Africa's news leader..

Source: SABCNews

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