DNA evidence convicts man who raped US student in Madrid a decade ago

Routine testing on robbery suspect brings American woman’s attacker to justice

The headquarters of the Madrid provincial court.
The headquarters of the Madrid provincial court.ULY MARTÍN

The victim, who has been identified only as S.A., returned to her home in Seattle in the days following her ordeal, which took place in April 2004. But 10 years later, Spanish police contacted her after they arrested Cristóbal Cañas Moya for his alleged involvement in a robbery. During his detention, the 35-year-old volunteered a DNA sample. This was then checked in the police’s database, and matched one taken from S.A. after she had been raped.

Speaking to the Madrid provincial court via a video link during the trial, S.A., now aged 32, explained that she had been in the Spanish capital as part of a university study program. There she had met two men in the city center in the early hours of the morning and accepted a lift home with them to her student residence in the capital’s university district. Instead, she was taken to an abandoned patch of land on the outskirts of the city.

After parking the car, the two men took turns raping her over a period of about an hour. They also stole her bag, containing money, a cellphone, and a camera. She was then left by the side of the road, and they drove off. After about half an hour, she made her way to a gas station near Rivas del Jarama, about 20 kilometers to the east of the capital. By now it was 5.30am. The staff there immediately called the police, who took her to hospital, where sperm samples were taken. She then made a statement to an investigating magistrate. Days later, she left Spain.

Cañas Moya, who was given a 27-year jail term, refused to identify the other man who took part in the rape. He insisted during his trial that the young woman agreed to have sex with him. His lawyer said the DNA test had been obtained illegally because although the accused had agreed, it had not been taken in the lawyer’s presence.

Man sentenced for drugging and sexually assaulting Italian student

A Madrid court has sentenced a Romanian man to 27 months in jail for sexually assaulting a 20-year-old Italian student whom he had allegedly drugged.

The attacker, Cristian Manac, aged 29, was caught in the act by two Civil Guards on the night of June 13, 2012 after they spotted him dragging a semi-unconscious woman along Madrid’s main Gran Vía thoroughfare. They followed him into a doorway, where he was sexually assaulting the young woman. After seeing the officers, he let her go, causing her to fall and badly bruise her head.

When questioned by the civil guard officers, Manac reportedly immediately insisted that he had not drugged the young woman, telling them that she was his girlfriend.

The young woman was taken to hospital, but tests to identify the substance used to drug her were not carried out until two days later. The judge overseeing the case said he believed it was likely to have been scopolamine, also known as burundanga, which is made from the extracts of plants in the nightshade family such as henbane and jimson weed. It can cause disorientation, loss of memory, hallucinations, and stupor, and disappears from the body within six to eight hours without leaving a trace. It is odorless and tasteless and is thus easily administered to drinks.

Judicial sources say there have been several cases over recent months involving the alleged use of scopolamine as a date rape drug.

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