Spanish court upholds controversial 'Wolf Pack' conviction

The ruling was met with protests in cities across Spain.

(CNN)A Spanish court has upheld a controversial verdict which convicted five men of sexually abusing a teenage girl rather than more serious offenses they were accused of, such as rape, sparking calls for further protests across Spain on Wednesday.

The case -- which became known as "the Wolf Pack," after the name of a WhatsApp group on which the defendants and other friends chatted -- caused outrage and multiple demonstrations across Spain in April after the men were cleared of gang rape charges. The attack occurred during the 2016 running of the bulls festival in Pamplona.
The new ruling is the latest in a series of developments that have unsettled many in Spain. April's verdict said the five men had been sentenced to nine years for "a continued crime of sexual abuse," a lesser offense under Spanish law than gang rape. The ruling shone a light on Spanish law, in which the offense of rape requires evidence of physical violence or intimidation.
On Wednesday, a regional court in northern Spain confirmed the nine-year prison sentences for the men. It said they could be appealed in the national supreme court.
    Two of the five judges argued that the attackers used intimidation and their prison sentences should be raised to 14 years. But they were outvoted by the three other judges.
    "In the opinion of the majority of the court, there is not sufficient proof of intimidation -- needed to prove sexual assault or rape -- given that the facts established by the sentence of the provincial court do not amount to intimidatory or threatening actions, whether express or tacit, on the part of the defendants,"