Martín Pradenas, accused of seven crimes of sexual connotation, in a file image.RR.SS.
The Supreme Court of Chile has ordered this Thursday the annulment of the trial against Martín Pradenas, 30, who last August was sentenced to 20 years in prison for seven sexual crimes committed against six victims between 2010 and 2019. The case began with the complaint of rape to Antonia Barra, when she was 21 years old.
The young woman herself committed suicide three weeks after the attack, shocking the country and mobilizing feminists in search of justice.
The highest court has accepted this morning the appeal for annulment presented by the defense of Pradenas, who accused a lack of impartiality on the part of one of the judges.
The Supreme Court has ordered a new trial and that the defendant continue in pretrial detention.
"The Supreme Court accepts, by majority, the appeal for annulment considering that there was a lack of impartiality of one of the judges due to comments about the case on their social networks," the Judiciary reported.
The judge in question is Leonel Torres, who shared messages from his followers on his YouTube channel Netflix
that referred to Pradenas as a "rapist" or "damn rapist," according to the defendant's lawyers, quoted by
La Tercera .
She also shared publications that “include the hashtag #JusticiaparaAntonia, an expression that has been used on social networks by those who have supported the victim.
"The comments were made while the oral trial was taking place, which leaves one of the parties in an unfavorable position," said the Judiciary.
On August 6, the Temuco Oral Criminal Trial Court (some 650 kilometers south of Santiago) sentenced Pradenas to 20 years in effective prison for two rapes of a person over 14 years of age, four sexual abuses of a older than 14 and another to a minor.
The Supreme Court has clarified that its decision does not question substantive issues such as evidence, the defendant's participation and the use of the gender perspective to resolve the case, but rather the violation of the guarantee of an "impartial judge", a fundamental right for defendants and victims.
The case of Antonia Barra aroused public interest.
According to the prosecutor's account, Barra arrived on September 17, 2019 at a nightclub in Pucón, in the southern region of Araucanía.
At the compound, Pradenas harassed her for hours and convinced her to leave the place.
Among the evidence from the Public Ministry, a video shows Barra walking with difficulty next to Pradenas.
The next morning, the victim called her friend she went to the disco with in tears.
She had sent him a message that read: "
” and that Pradenas had locked her up, in addition to the location where she was.
According to the prosecutor, when her friends went looking for her, Barra looked very affected and did not tell what happened.
On October 12, she related the sexual assault to her ex-boyfriend, according to messages found on her mobile.
The next day, she said goodbye to the boy, and a few hours later, she took her own life.
In July 2020, the courts ordered Pradenas only house arrest, despite requests from the Prosecutor's Office to order preventive detention.
The decision brought thousands of women to the streets in different cities of the country.
Days after the protests, the Public Ministry revoked the precautionary measure and ordered preventive detention, considering that Pradenas constituted a danger to society.
Since then, Alejandro Barra, the victim's father, together with feminist organizations, have mobilized so that femicide suicide has criminal prosecution.
After years of pressure, last week the Antonia Law was promulgated, which establishes that the person who "due to previous acts constituting gender violence, committed by him against the victim, causes the suicide of a woman, will be sanctioned with the penalty of minor imprisonment in its maximum degree to major imprisonment in its minimum degree as author of femicidal suicide”.
Subscribe here to the EL PAÍS America
and receive all the latest news in the region.