Five men known as the “Wolf Pack” have been sentenced to 15 years in prison for rape by Spain’s Supreme Court, after more than a year of heated protests over their original, lighter conviction.
The men were convicted of sexual abuse but cleared of gang rape charges in December 2018 for their attack on a teenage girl, which happened at the 2016 running of the bulls in Pamplona.
The country’s highest court has now reversed that decision, upgrading their conviction and dealing a long-awaited victory to the thousands of protesters who have taken to the streets throughout the case.
Defendants Jose Angel Prenda Martinez, Angel Boza Florido, Jesus Escudero Dominguez, Antonio Manuel Guerrero Escudero and Alfonso Jesus Cabezuelo Entrena – known as the Wolf Pack after the name of a WhatsApp group they spoke on – recorded cellphone video of their encounter in July 2016 with the woman, then 18.
Four of the men were arrested after the Friday ruling, police told CNN, leaving just one at large.
The case shocked the nation and prompted widespread outrage, which was ultimately diverted towards Spain’s judicial system, and a change in the law, once the men were cleared of rape and released on bail.
The original ruling had been made on the grounds that Spanish law requires evidence of physical violence or intimidation to prove a rape charge, a stipulation that has since been brought into question.
Prosecutors had called on the Supreme Court to upgrade the sentence, and the court agreed that the victim had indeed faced intimidation. “The factual account describes an intimidating scenario, in which the victim in no way consents to the sexual acts carried out by the accused,” the court said.
Antonio Manuel Guerrero Escudero received an extra two years, as he was also found guilty of the theft of the victim’s phone.
According to court documents, WhatsApp messages circulated to the group by one of the defendants included “us five are ****ing one girl,” “there is more than what I’m telling you,” “a ****ing amazing trip” and “there is video.”