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ARGENTINA | 04-03-2022 23:11

Six accused in Palermo gang rape case refuse to testify

Six men aged between 20 and 24 refuse to give testimony before judge; They stand accused of gang raping 20-year-old victim in popular Palermo area of Buenos Aires City and were caught in the act by police.

The six men arrested for the shocking gang rape of a 20-year-old girl in broad daylight in the popular Palermo neighbourhood of Buenos Aires this week refused to testify before the judge in the case, Marcos Fernández and prosecutor Eduardo Rosende.

Ángel Pascual Ramos, 23, Lautaro Pasotti, 24, Ignacio Retondo, 22, Alexis Cuzzoni, 20, Tomás Domínguez, 21, and Franco Lykan, 24, will continue to be held in custody, according to police. 

The suspects were interrogated vía Zoom on Wednesday evening. The judge now has 10 days to send the accused to trial or acquit them. The victim testified the same day and "described the scenario as rape."

The shocking incident took place last Tuesday, when the group of youths were arrested by police. A local businesswoman had alerted the police, telling them that she’d seen four people abusing the victim while another two attempted to “distract” others from the scene around them.

The victim was heavily intoxicated and marijuana and ecstasy was discovered inside the car where the rape took place, along with seven mobile phones.

Buenos Aires Mayor Horacio Rodriguez Larreta said this week that the “gang rape” was an “aberration” and expressed his support for the victim and her family.

“A city team trained to act in situations of sexual violence is with her. Every act of violence has to be absolutely repudiated and condemned, as appropriate. The six rapists must feel the full weight of the law,” the mayor said on Twitter.

Local prosecutors have asked for anyone with footage or photographs related to the case to come forward, though they have already identified relevant CCTV footage via a series of security camera videos

According to court sources cited by Noticias Argentinas, those security camera images show the youths walking down the Serrano 1300 block where the victim said that she was deceived by some of the men to accompany them to the car parked there. The girl can be seen walking with two of them. The City Police tapes afterwards then show the woman walking with one of the accused and joining the rest in Plaza Serrano where in a shop video she can be observed walking with difficulty to keep her balance, leaning on one of them. 

The six arrested went with the victim from the ‘Ro’ pub in the Thames 1600 block, 300 metres away from the white VW Gol blanco car where the rape occurred.

Local shopkeepers saw a girl being assaulted inside the car and rang the emergency number 911 while neighbours also emerged to confront the rapists and rescue the girl.

City Police cars arrived from the 14A precinct and immediately proceeded to arrest the six suspects.

 

‘Not monsters’

The crime has shocked Argentina and prompted huge amounts of coverage across local media outlets, with many offering their take.

Women, Gender and Diversity Minister Elizabeth Gómez Alcorta was among them, giving her opinion that the gang rape was not committed by "monsters, they’re males socialised by this society. It would seem that the problem lies in some individuals with problems, not in society."

"These are not isolated events nor linked to males with any problem in particular, they’re not sick," said the minister, highlighting the importance of integral sex education.

"More legislation, more budget and all local governments creating areas of gender and unlearning centuries of violence" were required to resolve the problem, according to the minister.

Responding to those remarks, PRO chair Patricia Bullrich considered that the minister was "justifying" rape and demanded her resignation

"Six cowards drugged and raped her. Millions of youngsters study, work and have relationships of love and respect. But no: the government justifies rapists! Resign, minister!" demanded the former security minister via Twitter.

Presidente Alberto Fernández described the gang rape as an "atrocity" but backed Gómez Alcorta.

"Yesterday I read the chair of an opposition party [Patricia Bullrich] criticising Eli for bringing attention to an atrocity, the abuse and rape of a girl by six men," commented Fernández, underlining: "In fact what Eli was doing was bringing to the attention of all of us that somewhere lurks the idea that a woman can be the object fun for men. That’s horrific from any viewpoint. We should be ashamed that inequality exists in this 21st century. If we’re so macho, we made this world, it’s wrong and must be changed. I’m disgusted to live in a society which does not accept diversity."

Via a resolution, over 30 deputies rejected the expressions of the minister over the Palermo gang rape, summoning her to Congress to explain her ministry’s actions regarding sexual abuse and gender violence.

"Deplorable the message of the minister Gómez Alcorta over the Palermo gang rape. She confuses a sociological lecture with her government responsibilities and in that confusion fails to protect," said Carla Carrizo, the author of the initiative.

 

– TIMES/NA/PERFIL

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