Ever since the court in Pamplona delivered its judgement on Thursday convicting the five members of the "wolf pack" for sexual abuse and not for rape, the reaction of Spanish public opinion has far exceeded that of the government and institutions. In two days more than 1.2 million people have signed a Change.org petition demanding that Spain's Supreme Court remove the three magistrates who made the decision. The streets of the major cities have been filled by outraged demonstrators and, once again, the disconnection that exists between the people and their politicians, between the citizens and their institutions, has come to the surface.
In the face of all this, the Spanish government has muttered about legislative initiatives and done little more. The Supreme Court has protected the Pamplona judges and the court's president, Carlos Lesmes, who is also the head of Spain's senior judicial body, the General Council of the Judiciary, has demanded respect from the politicians and has stressed that criticisms could seriously compromise the system and undermine confidence in justice. And the Association of Public Prosecutors has said it considers the public response to the judges to be disproportionate. Pure corporatism. Nothing new, but one more piece of evidence showing that justice has a long journey to make and simply cannot remain so far removed from reality.
The verdict has been an aberration and attempting to protect those who made it only sends Spanish justice back into a past which, unfortunately, seems less and less like the past all the time. Justice has not been served in the verdict given to the members of the "wolf pack", but rather, they have been excused from the great seriousness of their actions.
So the judges have erred in their corporatism, the Spanish government with its insecurities and the head of state with his silence. Those who today assert that remaining quiet is necessary are the same people who induced the monarch to speak up last October after the referendum in Catalonia. One can see that it was easier to come out in defence of the police repression on 1st October than it is to defend a vulnerable young woman raped by a gang of brutes. The problem is that once you go down the path of making statements, when you remain silent you also make a statement. Even if your counsellors do not tell you to do so.