Mari Luz’s parents hand 2.3 million-signature petition to Zapatero
By David Eade
Last week the parents of Mari Luz Cortés, who allegedly died at the hands of a paedophile earlier this year, handed a 2.3 million-signature petition to the Spanish premier, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, at La Moncloa in Madrid.
Juan José Cortes and his wife met the prime minister and the minister for justice, Fernández Bermejo, at Sr Zapatero’s official residence. The nationwide petition bears 2,360,000 names of people supporting the family’s demand for tougher sentences for paedophiles.
Five-year-old Mari Luz was abducted by convicted paedophile Santiago del Valle from a street near her home in Huelva in January. While Del Valle admits taking her he denies murder, claiming that her death was an accident. He is alleged to have later disposed of her body, with his wife’s help, dumping Mari Luz’s cadaver in the town’s river.
The campaign for the tougher sentencing of paedophiles carries additional strength because had its terms been applied before Mari Luz was abducted, her death could have been avoided. Del Valle should have been in prison at the time, having been convicted of abusing his own daughter.
The judge in charge of the Sevilla court, Rafael Tirado, who was ultimately responsible for Del Valle remaining free, was recently fined 1,500 euros by the Consejo General del Poder Judicial (CGPJ), the governing body of Spain’s justice system. This caused widespread public outrage, with the public prosecutor’s office announcing, on September 24, that it was lodging an appeal. The prosecution is demanding that Sr Tirado be banned from office for three years, which could spell an end to his career as a judge.
Last Thursday the Ministry of Justice suspended for two years without pay the judicial secretary at the Sevilla court, Juana Gálvez, for her alleged negligence in the Mari Luz case. It now remains to be seen whether her boss, Judge Tirado, will be handed a similar fate.