María del Carmen García already had her suitcase packed, ready to enter the Fontcalent prison in Alicante on Thursday for killing her daughter’s rapist. However, at the last minute, the court accepted the appeal filed by her attorney, Joaquín Galant, which called for the suspension of her sentence while the government considers her request for a pardon.
“Thank you all for your support,” said García, visibly emotional after learning that, at least for now, she won’t have to return to jail to serve the remaining four-and-a-half years of her murder sentence. “They have to pardon me because I’m not a killer,” she told reporters.
Her daughter, Verónica, was 13 when she was raped by a neighbor in 1998. The offender was sentenced to nine years in prison. In 2005, while on parole, the rapist returned to their hometown, Benejúzar, and ran into García. “How’s your daughter?” he asked her.
María del Carmen’s response was blunt. She bought a bottle of gasoline, walked into a bar, doused the convicted rapist and set him on fire. The man died a week later from the burns he suffered.
The court has now agreed to suspend her sentence “while the application for pardon is being handled” by Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón.
“We won a battle; what’s left is the war,” says Verónica, who is glad that her mother can now spend the summer with the family.
The court suspended the sentence in light of García’s personal circumstances. They cited her “lack of habitual dedication to criminal activities” and noted that she had no prior record. Her lawyer also argued that she has to attend to her family “in particular her husband, who suffers from a serious illness.”
They have to pardon me because I’m not a killer”
Galant explained that the court confirmed a few weeks ago that the government is currently “hearing” the petition for pardon, which was endorsed by more than 20 groups and 1,700 individuals. The defense attorney asked the court in Elche to suspend her imprisonment pending the resolution of the request, which must be approved by the Cabinet.
Galant is thankful for the “popular uproar” of the thousands of people who supported the pardon request. “We hope it will be approved,” he says.
On Wednesday, the family submitted an additional 14,700 signatures from individuals who support García’s plea. They will be added to the petition that was filed on June 11.
In July 2009, the court sentenced García to nine-and-a-half years for the crime, which occurred in June 2005. A year later in 2010, the Supreme Court reduced the sentence to five-and-a-half years after applying the defense of temporary insanity. She was detained for one year while awaiting trial.