20 Junio 2017 10:54
An Argentinian court has allowed Marisela Pozo’s assailants to escape jail time ruling that they killed the victim ‘unintentionally’. The brutal beating was filmed by various witnesses who did nothing to help the woman
Shock and outrage in Argentina over a sentence that once again casts doubt over a justice system accused of being sexist
Warning: the images you’re about to see may offend some people’s sensibilities.
3 against 1. Three men unleashing their fury on one woman in the middle of the street, in the plain light of day. Nearby, frightened witnesses film the scene with their mobile phones at a safe distance, hidden behind railings or nervously peering through windows. Despite her screaming, nobody came to the victim’s aid. Marisela Inés Pozo Pizl died two days later.
It happened on 17 March, 2016 in the town of Gregorio de Laferrère, in the suburbs of Greater Buenos Aires. The sequence leading up to the deadly attack is unclear. Several neighbours told local media that the victim was agitated, ‘beside herself’. She had allegedly assaulted a 10-year-old girl, although it wasn’t clear how. She had then cut her arms and legs trying to climb over the railings of a house and smashing a shop window.
That was when Marisela was approached by three people, the owner of the shop with the broken window and two other local business owners. The men told police they had only intervened to ‘move her on’. But videos like the one above tell a different story.
‘The girl ran onto the scene and broke the shop window, I don’t know why. The shopkeeper came out with an iron bar and started to hit her. The mechanic held her while the others beat her. They beat her half to death and wanted to throw her onto the train tracks,’ a neighbour told the TV channel C5N
Marisela was beaten with sticks and iron bars, dragged across the floor and tied to a tree. Local residents said they heard the aggressors discussing whether or not to throw her onto the train tracks. They tortured her mercilessly for 3 hours, and no one came to her defence.
When the police found her, the woman was lying on the floor, in the middle of the street, in a coma. 27-year-old Marisela spent two days clinging to life in hospital, before she died.
The autopsy confirmed that the young woman had taken large amounts of cocaine and psychotropic substances. Additional studies were requested to find out if she could have died from an overdose. The results were negative.
‘The police found the young women lying in the middle of the street, in a coma. 27-year-old Marisela spend two days clinging to life in hospital.’
The Argentinean court said the evidence proved that Marisela had died from injuries caused by the blows. However, none of the three aggressors will step foot in a jail.
Why? Because the magistrates believe Marisela was killed ‘unintentionally’. In legal jargon, what happened was ‘voluntary manslaughter’. The men killed her, but that was never their intention, declared the judge in his ruling, based on the grounds that none of the blows were to ‘vital areas’.
Voluntary manslaughter is punishable with terms of between one and three years in prison. In this case, the public prosecutor, Carlos Alfredo Luppino, made a deal with the defence for the minimum term under law: a year’s suspended prison sentence.
‘This is shameful, I cannot believe how the public prosecutor could have reached a deal of this kind. A murder has gone unpunished and the family once again is being victimized. Three murderers are walking free because of a prosecutor,’ the lawyer of the victim’s family, Matías Bernal, told El País. ‘They had her tied to a tree, they beat her and they threw her body into the gutter. If they didn’t want to kill her, what did they want to do?’.
‘The magistrates believe Marisela was killed ‘unintentionally’. In legal jargon, what happened was a ‘voluntary homicide’. Based on this interpretation, the prosecution and defence made a deal for the minimum term under law: a year’s suspended sentence. No one will step foot inside a prison for Marisela’s death’
Not surprisingly, the ruling has caused widespread indignation and criticism. The lightness of the sentence once again casts doubts over a justice system accused of being corrupt and sexist.
The figures are painful to see. On average, one woman is murdered every 36 hours in Argentina. In 2015, 235 women died, victims of gender violence, according to the National Femicide Register. The figure rises to 286 if we look at data gathered by the civil association, La Casa del Encuentro. Last year, cases of femicide increased by 8%, according to the Supreme Court of Justice.
Violence against women is an endemic problem in Argentina. But so too is the attitude of the justice system to such crimes. Last year, Nadia Coronel, a member of the Colectivo Mujeres de Negro, told PlayGround that only 30% of deaths arising from gender violence see a fair sentence. And with rulings such as this one, that shameful figure is growing all the time.
— San Justo La Matanza (@vecinalmatanza) 21 de marzo de 2016