THE ringleader of a gang of five men that raped a girl during the San Fermin bull running fiesta in Pamplona in July 2016 has written an open letter to his victim, recognising his guilt for the first time and asking for forgiveness.
The ‘manada’ case – which translates as wolfpack in English and was so called after the name of the WhatsApp group that the men belonged to – caused nationwide outrage and led to mass protests in cities across Spain spurring calls for an overhaul of the country’s sexual offences legislation.
The men were cleared of gang rape after a high profile court case in 2015 and convicted of a lesser charge of sexual abuse after judges ruled there had been no violence as a video showed the women did not fight back.
But the following year Spain’s supreme court overturned the lower court’s verdict, ruling the five were guilty of gang-rape and raising their sentences from nine to 15 years each.
It also forced a nationwide re-examination of the country’s sexual offence laws and the introduction of an ‘only yes means yes’ rape law.
Jose Angel Prenda, 32, who was considered the ringleader of the group has now admitted his guilt for the first time in an open letter apologising to his victim which he asked to be taken into account in his prison record.
Until now he had maintained his innocence and claimed that the young woman had caused enormous damage to his family and that of the other four accused.
“Five families have been destroyed by a lie that I am sure she would tell at the time to get out of it (…)” he previously wrote in a letter from prison. “ I hope she puts an end to all this by telling the truth”.
Prenda has now changed that version and admits that he did rape the woman that night.
“By means of this letter I wish to express (…) my total repentance for the crime for which I am serving this sentence and my request for forgiveness to the victim for the damage caused, which I deeply regret, and also to her immediate family”, he wrote in a letter published in the Spanish media.
However, the letter also included another request: “Please record this request (for forgiveness) in writing in my prison file and give me a copy of it”.
According to prison sources such a letter showing acceptance of the crime and remorse is the first essential step to being eligible for day release from prison.