The Attorney General supports the overturning of Echenique and Del Olmo’s conviction because they take an unproven violation for granted

The Attorney General supports the overturning of Echenique and Del Olmo’s conviction because they take an unproven violation for granted

United We Can Speaker in Congress Pablo Echenique in early 2022.United We Can spokesman in Congress Pablo Echenique in early 2022. Ricardo Rubio (Europa Press)

Prosecutors of the Supreme Court have decided to cancel an 80,000 euro fine imposed in 2020 on Pablo Echenique, spokesman for United We Can in Congress, and Juan Manuel del Olmo, current adviser to the Ministry of Social Rights and former member of the cabinet of the former Vice President Pablo Iglesias. The State Ministry supports an appeal by both against the verdict of a court in Leganés, later upheld by the Provincial Court of Madrid, which considered that they had violated the right to honor of a man murdered 35 years ago, in whose crime Pilar collaborated Baeza, candidate for the City Council of Ávila in the 2019 municipal elections.

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In a letter dated June 6th, to which EL PAÍS had access, the public prosecutor defended that freedom of expression takes precedence over the right to honor of the deceased; and that the conviction failed to adequately balance the content of the two politicians’ demonstrations and the “electoral context” in which they took place. As the document explains, after the facts became known, both came out to publicly defend their candidate. Echenique did so at a press conference in “response to a question in which he simply pointed out that ‘simply to point out that we are talking about events that took place 35 years ago and relate to a woman who was raped”. Del Olmo wrote a tweet that read, “…35 years ago he was a rape victim. Her boyfriend then shot the man who had raped her. She was convicted and paid her debt to society.”

The local Podemos candidate was sentenced to 30 years in prison as a necessary collaborator in the assassination of Manuel López in the 1980s. She was 23 at the time and told her then-boyfriend that the victim had raped her. According to the verdict, which never found rape to be a proven rape, she herself received the shotgun her partner used in the act for which she was serving a prison sentence. “Of course I regret it, how can I not regret it,” said Baeza in a 2019 interview in EL PAÍS.

Given the impact Baeza’s candidacy had, both Del Olmo and Echenique came forward to defend her. And his words ended up in court. The victim’s brother, Víctor López, sued her for violating the honor rights of the man who was murdered in 1985. He demanded 300,000 euros, but the court lowered his demands to 80,000 euros. The public prosecutor’s office is now requesting that this conviction be set aside.

“It is true, as the judgment under appeal states, that it would have been more realistic to say that she claimed to have been raped,” the prosecutor argues: “But such demonstrations are clearly conducted in an election campaign in support of her candidate and in a closed one defense to him. And while they do not question the rape, they do not attribute or identify the crime in their statements, instead focusing on their candidate as a rape victim and indicating that they believe her version as a sign of support.

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The prosecutor insists that the fact that the victim “can be identified on the basis of the extensive information previously disseminated cannot be blamed on politics”. “[Echenique y Del Olmo] They also do not disclose or publish these events, which have already been the subject of extensive media coverage. His remarks are written in response to this, defending the suitability of his candidate, that is, one of the people involved in the political election campaign,” he continues in his letter, which he emphasizes: “On the other hand, it cannot be disregarded that the deceased, although a private person, attains public relevance through his unfortunate relationship to criminal activities, which, together with his condition as a deceased person, leads to a reduction in the intensity of the protection of his honor.