MURDERED GIRLS PARENTS PROTEST BLACKEST PAGE IN JUSTICE

Hundreds of people accompanied the family of Mari Luz Cortés to protest the €1,500 fine for the Sevilla judge who failed to follow up the prison sentence he had given to the man who is currently in jail on charges of murdering her in January. Judge Rafael Tirado had sentenced Santiago del Valle, a neighbour of the Cortés family in Huelva, to prison last year after finding him guilty of abusing his own daughter. However, the judge failed to ensure that the sentence was carried out. Mari Luz, aged 5, went missing in mid-January but her body was not found for several weeks, in a stream less than two kilometres from her home. She had been beaten and stranged before being dumped in the water. Police eventually arrested Del Valle and charged him with her murder. Last week, when the Judicial Power’s General Council (CGPJ) found the judge guilty of a “serious fault” and fined him €1,500, everyone – including Prime Minister José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero – reacted angrily, especially after another judge was fined €7,500 for “lack of bodily hygiene” later in the week. Mari Luz’s father, Juan José Cortés, said: “The CGPJ has just written the blackest page in Justice”, while Sr Zapatero told reporters he “disagreed profoundly” with the Council’s ruling and rang Mari Luz’s father to assure him that the government would pursue all legal possibilities to ensure that justice is done. The CGPJ accused the Prime Minister of speaking without knowing the details of the case. Justice Minister Mariano Fernandez Bermejo said: “It is very difficult to agree with such a small fine and it would be a good idea for the Public Prosecutor to appeal against it.” Interior Minister Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba said that a new register of paedophiles would be created immediately, to which the police and the Guardia Civil would both have access. He also promised to reform the law to allow paedophiles and terrorists to be supervised for up to 20 years after getting out of jail. Meanwhile, the judge is reported to be appealing against the fine.

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