The high-profile trial into the rape and murder of 16-year-old Lucía Pérez in Mar del Plata ended Monday with the acquittal of the three alleged perpetrators. Pérez's family has labelled the decision an "embarrassment and a lie".
Pérez's rape and murder in October, 2016 on a Mar del Plata beach sparked national outrage and street protests calling for greater action against gender-based violence. The details of the crime were particularly gruesome and involved hypotheses about the use of objects to penetrate the young woman's body.
However, a criminal court in the coastal city on Monday ruled that there was a lack of evidence to charge Matías Farías, Juan Pablo Offidani, and Alejandro Maciel.
"The ruling is an embarrassment and a lie. This tribunal doesn't understand a thing about gender-based violence", father Guillermo Pérez said, following the ruling of judges Facundo Gómez Urso, Aldo Carnevale and Pablo Viñas.
He also took aim at investigation's first prosecutor Maria Isabel Sánchez for having "ruined the prospects of justice for Lucía". Sánchez was removed from the case.
"We did not expect this. We expected a stronger penalty", Pérez said.
The court did, however, find Matías Farías, 25, and Juan Pablo Offidani, 43, guilty of supplying drugs to a minor. They were sentenced to eight years in prison and a AR$ 135,000 fine. The third defendant, Alejandro Maciel, 61, was acquitted of all charges and will be released from preventative arrest.
Prosecutor Daniel Vicente had in closing remarks called for the court to sentence Farías to life imprisonment for "sexual abuse with aggravated carnal penetration toward femicide, with the aggravation of supplying drugs to a minor".
He had requested 18 years prison for Offidani, as an alleged "necessary complice" of the same crime; while dropping a request for charges of "aggravated cover-up" against Maciel, who was accused of washing the dead girl's body.
Lucía Pérez's death prompted nationwide protests throughout 2017 and 2018.
Friends, feminist activists and the relatives of other gender-based violence victims accompanied the Pérez family outside court on Monday, amid tears and outrage over the verdict.