DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Judge rules that convicted wife-beater should return to live with victim

Court in Jaén upholds appeal by 78-year-old man on basis that he "has nowhere else to go"

Judge Pío Aguirre.
Judge Pío Aguirre.

The Jaén Provincial Court has decided that a man who has been found guilty of domestic abuse offenses on four occasions should return to his home and live with his wife. Judge Pío Aguirre took the controversial decision regarding the 78-year-old man on the basis that he “hasn’t got anywhere to go,” despite the obvious risk posed for the victim of his past abuse.

The Andalusian public prosecutor and the region’s Women’s Institute have condemned the decision, calling it a significant backward step in the fight against gender violence.

The sentence revokes the nine-month prison sentence that had been handed down to Sebastián M. C., for having repeatedly violated a restraining order that his wife had taken out against him. The judge found in favor of the appeal presented by the aggressor’s defense team, arguing that jail time could have caused greater harm than it was designed to avoid, given the physical and mental deterioration of the elderly gentleman, “who would wander around his village all day and has nowhere to go.” What’s more, his defense lawyer argued that the man’s wife had given permission for her husband to return to their home, located in the municipality of Bedmar-Garcíez.

The man has been found guilty of abuse charges on four occasions since 2006, all of which involved his wife.

The man has been found guilty of abuse charges on four occasions since 2006, all involving his wife

The Jaén public prosecutor for gender violence cases, Gracia Rodríguez, called the decision “unheard of,” adding that it was “putting all of the work that is done to do away with gender violence at risk.” The prosecutor added that the sentence was like a “concealed pardon” for the aggressor, as well as warning of the risk of future violence for the wife. He concluded that the social services should step in to provide the man with a residence or other such place where he could live, away from his wife.

The Andalusian Women’s Institute (IAM) expressed its “complete disagreement” with a sentence that, it said, “makes no sense.” Beatriz Marín, the head of the IAM in Jaén, added that she would be giving the victim all the resources necessary. She added that the IAM – to which the victim had turned in the past for assistance – would be carrying out “a direct and special follow-up” of the case, because “the most important thing is the woman and the children she has to take care of.”

Marín cited a previous case in Jaén to illustrate the dangers of such a situation: a woman called Ana Orantes died after she was burned alive by her husband in 1997 after denouncing the abuse that she was suffering at his hands on a TV show.