Lucía Pérez was 16 years old

In case of Lucia Perez (16), whose femicide shocked society in 2016, today has two scenarios. On the one hand, the new trial ordered by the Buenos Aires Supreme Court of Justice to try, again, the three suspects of the sexual abuse and murder of the adolescent. On the other, the indictment for poor performance against the judges Oral Criminal Court No. 1 of Mar del Plata that acquitted the defendants in the first debate. Precisely, this Tuesday two of the magistrates They were suspended for a jury, in a unanimous decision of the Jury for the Prosecution of Magistrates.

At the hearing held this morning, and which was chaired by the magistrate of the Supreme Court of Buenos Aires Hilda Kogan, the accusation against the judges was made Juan Facundo Gómez Urso and Pablo Viñas, who in November 2018 acquitted Matías Farías (26), Juan Pablo Offidani (45) and Alejandro Maciel (62) accused of the femicide of Lucía, a resolution that was revoked last year by the Chamber of Cassation.

In addition, the two magistrates will have 40 percent of their salary withheld. The third member of the court, Aldo Carnevale, decided to retire in 2019 and thus avoid the suspicions about his actions. Now, with the provisional suspension of the judges, The respective evidence must be presented to start the public debate, whose date has not yet been set, to establish whether or not they are removed from their positions.

The ruling they handed down – and for which they go to trial – is one of the examples that is pointed out when talking about “Patriarchal justice”. In his verdict, when convicting two of the three defendants for supplying drugs to a minor, the judges said that there had been neither rape nor femicide.

The judges of the Oral Court 1 of Mar del Plata who conducted the trial in the case of Lucía Pérez (Christian Heit)
The judges of the Oral Court 1 of Mar del Plata who conducted the trial in the case of Lucía Pérez (Christian Heit)

“Lucía was 16 years old and Farías was 23, so it would be very forced to speak of a situation of inequality or superiority, especially taking into account the personality of Lucía who did not show herself as a girl her age and who had also referred to maintaining relationships with men up to 29 years old “said one of the paragraphs of the sentence.

That resolution, with its considerations, caused social outrage due to the impact the Lucía case had had on society. The three judges were denounced. As indicated to Infobae sources of the case, today, behind closed doors, the Jury of Prosecution made up of judicial officials, legislators and lawyers met in the Golden Room of the provincial Senate to hear the accusations of the Procurator General of the Province, the Bicameral Commission of the Buenos Aires Legislature, the Ombudsman of the Province and the family of Lucía Pérez. There were ten of the eleven members of the jury (only deputy Roberto Costa was missing). There it was debated whether to close the case or move towards the jury.

Unanimously, this Tuesday it was decided to declare the trial admissible. Earlier, in a divided resolution, the challenge of Judge Hilda Kogan, Minister of the Buenos Aires Supreme Court, as president of the jury, was also rejected, the sources consulted by Infobae. Some of the legislators that make up the jury could change in the face of the legislative change that will take place as of December 10.

The acquittal decision caused outrage (Nicolás Stulberg)
The acquittal decision caused outrage (Nicolás Stulberg)

The victim’s family celebrated the news. They trust that the dismissal of the magistrates will be able to take place. “Lucia had no rights. The judges did not respond to any right of Lucia, “he told radio province Marta Montero, mother of Lucia, who was on the outskirts of the legislature awaiting the conduct of the hearing.

From now on, a process of evidence opens: the judges questioned will have the possibility to justify their actions and the accusers to support the complaint for poor performance. To the judges Gómez Urso y Viñas They are blamed for having handed down a ruling “incompatible” with international human rights law and the lack of a “gender perspective in the prosecution of sexual crimes”.

What’s more, they are reproached for not having considered that “the girl was drugged, sexually abused and murdered, so the sentence passed, Far from complying with the law, it shows a clear arbitrariness, which leaves femicide unpunished, which shows with supine clarity the incompetence and non-compliance with the duties of the position of the judges”.

  Marta Montero, mother of the victim
Marta Montero, mother of the victim

For its part, the Buenos Aires Ombudsman’s Office considered the suspension of the judges “exemplary” and assured that the measure adopted “It is a step forward for the gender perspective to be a central element when judging”.

This was considered by Cecilia Rodríguez, Legal and Technical Director of the body led by Guido Lorenzino, who is one of the accusers together with the General Attorney of the Province, the Bicameral Commission of the Legislature and the family of the murdered minor.

“The Jury of Prosecution gave rise to our accusation, in which we emphasized that the first instance ruling was flawed with bias, prejudices and gender stereotypes, without taking into account the current and mandatory Human Rights conventions for our country. The judges ignored these norms that protect women and that, in this case, were used against the victim”, Expressed Rodríguez.

Images of the trial for the death of Lucía Pérez
Images of the trial for the death of Lucía Pérez

In the trial for the death of Lucía Pérez, the judges convicted the defendants of drug sales but acquitted them of femicide and cover-up. This ruling motivated the Ombudsman’s Office to accuse the judges for understanding that it was full of sexist and discriminatory stereotypes.

Lucia’s case

The case of Lucía Pérez shook public opinion at a time when the first mobilizations to demand “Ni Una menos” were being assembled. Her death led to the first women’s strike, on October 19, 2016. She was the prosecutor for the case. Maria Isabel Sanchez the one that horrified society, already moved by the femicides, when recounting the crime: “I have never seen such an aberration of events.” Assured that the young woman had been impaled “with superhuman suffering”, something that the forensic experts ruled out and led to an investigation being ordered into the official.

Lucia was 16 years old and went to Middle School 3 in Mar del Plata. The defendants in the case were Matías Gabriel Farías (26), Juan Pablo Offidani (45) and Alejandro Alberto Maciel (62), who died last year. According to the hypothesis of the case, Lucía and Farías had met on October 7, 2016 when Farías went to sell Lucía marijuana at school and the teenager would have left him owed 100 pesos. They agreed to see each other the next day.

The defendants at trial
The defendants at trial

What happened on October 8, 2016 is what is being investigated. Matías Farías (who was 23 at the time) and Juan Pablo Offidani (then 41) went looking for her. They took her to Farías’s house in the Alfar neighborhood. Along the way they bought bills and cigarettes. Upon reaching the house, Offidani left. The prosecution maintained that there the young woman was drugged and abused to death, and that the body was taken to a health center in Playa Serena, after having been washed and conditioned with the help of the third accused.

The defenses denied those allegations. They affirmed that the sexual relations with Farías were consensual and that the girl suffered a toxic asphyxiation as a result of drug use that led to her death. They admitted the sale of narcotics but asked for the minimum penalty. And they questioned the first prosecutor in the case for having treated as “animals”To the defendants, after maintaining that no one in this case could get that initial image out of their heads talking about impalement.

The Oral Court of Mar del Plata gave its verdict in 2018. Two of them those sentenced to eight years in prison but for “possession of narcotic drugs for marketing purposes.” The three accused of the sexual abuse and femicide of Lucía Pérez were unanimously acquitted.

Lucía Pérez, the victim
Lucía Pérez, the victim

“From the aforementioned conversations (chats) it is clear that Lucía had sexual relations with whom and when she wanted,” says a fragment of the sentence. In that sense, the judges implied that he was an “experienced” person, who knew what he was doing. One of the judges went so far as to say that there was “no physical, psychological violence, subordination, or humiliation, much less reification”.

“The accusation has not been able to prove that Lucía was sexually abused in a context of gender violence due to the objectification of women and with the facilitation of narcotics that would have strengthened a situation of vulnerability and prevented the full consent of the action. Even less has it been proven that Farías wanted or should represent the death of the victim as possible and that even so he was disinterested in that result, “it was added.

The ruling sparked outrage. And complaints were filed against the magistrates who issued that verdict. Meanwhile, both the victim’s family and the prosecution appealed the sentence and in August 2020, the Buenos Aires Court of Cassation annulled the scandalous trial and ordered a new debate to be held “With the urgency that the case deserves.” In their ruling, they stated that “judging with a gender perspective tends to guarantee the exercise of women’s rights, gender equality and effective judicial protection, avoiding the reproduction of stereotypes that take for granted the way in which they should behave people according to their sex or gender ”.

The Supreme Court of Justice ratified that decision last May. The family awaits the date of the new oral debate.

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