The Supreme Prosecutor's Office supports annulling the conviction of Echenique and Del Olmo for taking an unproven violation for granted
The spokesman for United We Can in Congress, Pablo Echenique, at the beginning of 2022.
The spokesman for United We Can in Congress, Pablo Echenique, at the beginning of 2022.Ricardo Rubio (Europa Press)

The Supreme Court Prosecutor’s Office has ruled in favor of annulling a sentence of 80,000 euros imposed in 2020 on Pablo Echenique, spokesman for United We Can in Congress, and Juan Manuel del Olmo, current advisor to the Ministry of Social Rights and former member of the cabinet of former Vice President Pablo Iglesias. The public ministry supports an appeal filed by both against the sentence issued by a court in Leganés, later confirmed 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 Ávila City Council in the 2019 municipal elections.

Through a letter dated June 6, to which EL PAÍS has had access, the Prosecutor’s Office defends that freedom of expression prevails over the right to honor of the deceased; and that the conviction did not adequately weigh the content of the demonstrations by the two politicians and the “electoral context” in which they occurred. As the document explains, once the facts were known, both came out to defend their candidate in public. Echenique did so at a press conference, in “response to a question where he limits himself to pointing out that ‘simply highlight that we are talking about events that took place 35 years ago, which refer to a woman who was raped.” Del Olmo wrote a tweet that read: “…she 35 years ago she was the victim of rape. Her boyfriend then shot the man who raped her. She was convicted and paid her debt to society.”

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

Given the repercussion that Baeza’s candidacy had, both Del Olmo and Echenique came out to defend it. And his words ended up in court. The victim’s brother, Víctor López, sued them for violating the right to honor of the man murdered in 1985. He claimed 300,000 euros, but the court lowered his claim to 80,000 euros. The Prosecutor’s Office now requests to annul that sentence.

“It is true, as the appealed judgment points out, that it would have been more adjusted to reality to say that she claimed to have been raped”, argues the public ministry: “But such demonstrations are clearly carried out in an electoral context to support their candidate and in a closed defense to it. And, although they do not question the rape, in their statements they do not attribute the crime to any person or identify them, but instead focus on their candidate as a victim of rape, indicating that they believe her version as a sign of support ” .

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The Prosecutor’s Office insists that the fact that the victim can be identified “because of the extensive information previously disseminated, cannot be attributed” to politicians. “[Echenique y Del Olmo] nor do they divulge or publicize these events, which were already the subject of extensive media coverage. His statements are produced in response to them, defending the suitability of his candidate, that is, one of the people immersed in the electoral political contest”, he continues in his letter, which he emphasizes: “On the other hand, it cannot be ignored that the deceased , although he was a private person, acquires public relevance due to his unfortunate relationship with criminal acts, which, together with his condition of being a deceased person, means that the intensity of the protection of his honor is reduced.

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