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Spain’s Popular Party uses schoolteacher murder case to support life imprisonment

In the wake of the killing of Laura Luelmo, the conservatives are the only group that wants to keep legislation that went into effect in 2015

A minute of silence in Huelva to honor the memory of Laura Luelmo.
A minute of silence in Huelva to honor the memory of Laura Luelmo.

Spain’s conservative Popular Party (PP) on Tuesday tied the recent murder of a young woman in Huelva with the ongoing debate over the desirability of eliminating life imprisonment in Spain.

The PP’s congressional spokeswoman, Dolors Montserrat, said that it is “a point of pride” that her party is “the only bulwark against the repeal of reviewable permanent prison,” known as prisión permanente revisable in Spanish.

Most parties in Spain consider reviewable permanent imprisonment to go against the ultimate goal of social rehabilitation

The governing Socialist Party (PSOE), the leftist Podemos and the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) all support rolling back legislation that went into effect in 2015, when the PP was in power. The center-right Ciudadanos is abstaining.

The law, which was passed against the backdrop of the fight against Jihadist terrorism, allows judges to convict criminals to life with a possibility of review after a minimum fixed term in cases considered to be particularly heinous, such as assassinating a head of state, terrorist homicides, killing a minor under 16 years of age, and serial killings.

The PP spokeswoman said they are the only party that uses legal measures to defend women, alluding to an announcement made by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez about future initiatives to protect women in Spain.

Montserrat accused Sánchez of “brazenness” for making this claim on Tuesday, the day that police found the body of a 26-year-old teacher named Laura Luelmo who had gone missing days earlier. On Wednesday the main suspect in the case, a man with a criminal history that includes murder, confessed to the crime.

Protection and safety are not about beautiful words and pretty tweets, they’re about firm and effective laws

Dolors Montserrat, PP spokeswoman

“Protection and safety are not about beautiful words and pretty tweets, they’re about firm and effective laws,” said Montserrat.

During the recent Andalusian election campaign, PP leader Pablo Casado supported extending permanent imprisonment to cases when the murderer will not reveal the location of the body, or where the victim was previously kidnapped. The party had first proposed these changes in March, but they were rejected.

In mid-November, Spanish courts handed down a life sentence against Patrick Nogueira, who shocked the world in 2016 when news emerged that he had killed his uncle, aunt and young nephews in cold blood, then cut up their bodies while texting details via WhatsApp to a friend back in Brazil. It was the fifth case of permanent prison in Spain.

Most parties in Spain consider reviewable permanent imprisonment to go against the ultimate goal of social rehabilitation, which is encoded in the Spanish Constitution. The Constitutional Court is currently considering an appeal against this legislation.

English version by Susana Urra.

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