'Wolf pack' sex attackers forced to leave Spanish swimming pool after being recognised

'We are not going to allow Palomares del Río to become a refuge for rapists,' says deputy mayor

Harriet Agerholm@HarrietAgerholm
Wednesday 22 August 2018 16:38
Protesters demonstrate against the release of the 'La Manada' (wolf pack) gang members outside the Minister of Justice on June 22, 2018 in Madrid, Spain
Protesters demonstrate against the release of the 'La Manada' (wolf pack) gang members outside the Minister of Justice on June 22, 2018 in Madrid, Spain

Members of the notorious “wolf pack” group convicted of sexually abusing a teenager have been forced to leave a swimming pool in Seville.

The group have been the subject of public vitriol in Spain since five of its members were sentenced to nine years in prison in April for sexual abuse.

The men were cleared of rape and sentenced to the lesser charge after three judges found the victim was not intimidated and there was no violence against her. The decision became a national scandal and sparked widespread protests.

There was further outrage when the five men were released on bail of €6,000 (£5,391) in June while the Supreme Court reviewed their appeals.

Photographs of the members of ‘La Manada‘ are stuck to the wall during a demonstration against the verdict of the ‘wolf pack’ gang case outside the Ministry of Justice on April 26, 2018 in Madrid, Spain.

Two of the group went to a swimming pool in Palomares del Río on Saturday with around 10 others to celebrate the birthday of one of the pool’s employees.

They ate at the bar before having drinks by the poolside, where they were recognised by members of the public who started to shout and jeer at them, according to officials.

The pool employee decided to move his birthday celebrations to another part of the sports centre and the party waited for the pool to close before leaving.

Deputy mayor Juana Caballero called a press conference in the wake of the incident.

“Our government is not going to allow people declared personas non grata by this City Hall come to our municipality and use our public spaces to provoke social alarm,” she said.

“We are not going to allow Palomares del Río to become a refuge for rapists and criminals, and we are not going to tolerate our citizens feeling alarmed by these kinds of unwanted visitors,” she added.

The wolf pack or “La Manada” takes its name from a Whatsapp group used by the men to boast about drugging women for the purpose of abusing them.

During Pamplona’s San Fermín bull running festival in July 2015, five members of the messaging group ushered an 18-year-old woman into the lobby of a building where they sexually penetrated her nine times in the space of half an hour – five times orally, three vaginally and once anally.

They then stole her mobile telephone and left her there. Following the incident, they boasted about the crime on their Whatsapp group and posted photos and videos of the attack.

Lawyers for the defence claimed the woman consented and had let one of the men kiss her. They also said a short video footage from the encounter that showed the woman not moving and with her eyes shut during the attack, proved she consented.

The prosecution argued the victim was too terrified to move.

The verdict, delivered by the three judges, said the woman had not been raped since she had adopted “an attitude of submission and subjugation”.

Only sex involving violence or intimidation can constitute rape under Spanish law, although outrage at the verdict in the wolf pack case prompted the then-government to announce a review of sexual offences legislation.