Thousands continue protest in Spain after gang rape acquittal

April 28 (UPI) — Thousands rallied on the streets Pamplona, Spain, on Saturday for a third day of protests after five men were cleared of rape charges.

The men, dubbed the Wolf Pack, were found guilty of a lesser charge — sexual abuse — which protesters considered too lenient. They are accused of gang raping an 18-year-old woman in 2016 at a bull-running festival.

Each of the men were sentenced to nine years in prison, a crime that prosecutors thought deserved 20 years. Sexual abuse differs from rape under Spanish law because the crime does not involve violence or intimidation.

The sentencing also requires the men, who have been in custody since 2016, to pay the woman a total of $61,000 in compensation. One of the men, a police officer for the Spanish Civil Guard, was fined an extra $1,000 for stealing the woman’s phone.

According to a police report, the gang surrounded the woman in a small alcove, took off her clothes and had unprotected sex, during which, some of the men filmed using their phones and bragged about the crime to their friends on social media.

The report said the victim maintained a “passive or neutral” attitude during the rapes, keeping her eyes closed. Defense lawyers argued the woman’s apparent passivity was proof that the sex was consensual.

According to the sentencing document, the woman’s submissive stance was because she felt trapped and afraid.

Protests also took place in Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia since Thursday’s verdict was announced. Many of the protesters said they wanted to take a stand against the whole legal system, which they say is stacked against women.

Both the woman and the defendants plan to appeal the verdict.

Government officials on Friday said it would consider whether sexual crime laws need updating.