Tuesday, September 14, 2010


There is fear and anger in the small town of Rute in the province of Córdoba after a young man who is alleged to have killed his girlfriend with a shotgun has been released from jail. The maximum period that a person can be held on preventive detention is four years and that mark was passed last week.

The lawyer acting for the mother of the murdered girl, Mariano Garrido, said the accused was released last Friday. He now only has to present himself to the Guardia Civil once a week, a situation the lawyer branded as “ridiculous”.

The same opinion is shared by Carmen Santiago the legal representative of the deceased girl’s father. She believes the youth should be on a GPS tracker, be required to go to the court on a daily basis and to surrender his passport.

The Plataforma Cordobesa contra la Violencia a las Mujeres has held a demonstration to protest at his release and the delay in bring the accused to trial.

The first hearings are due to be held on November 2 in a trial by jury. The family are demanding a jail term of 20 years whilst the prosecutor is seeking a sentence of 15 years for the girl’s murder.

I am a firm believer in a person being deemed innocent until judged to be guilty after a fair trial. Yet where a person is accused of a major crime such as murder surely the protection of others is paramount. The case in Rute is not an exception.

Last year a number of youths who were accused of killing a bar owner as they robbed him late at night in Puente Mayorga near San Roque were also freed because their detention time as minors was exceeded. This caused widespread alarm and protests in the hamlet were they lived and the bar was located. Strict restrictions were placed on their movements and they were eventually convicted.

The root of the problem is the agonising slow pace of Spanish justice which has to be speeded up as a priority. Waiting four years to stand trial is neither fair on the accused nor the family of the victim. In addition the release of people convicted of murder or violent crimes back in to the community ahead of their trial needs to be urgently reviewed.

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