Gender violence grips Spain after another murder
A Spanish man found guilty of killing his wife in 2003 died trying to avoid the police after allegedly murdering a married lawyer who had defended him and with whom he was having an affair, the authorities announced.
Investigators believed there was a sexual relationship between the two, which was confirmed by relatives, government representative Carmen Sanchez told the media. “It is, therefore, a crime of gender violence,” she said.
Spain’s Socialist government has made combating gender violence a priority.
Lawyer Rebeca Santamalia Cáncer, 48, was found stabbed to death in the northeastern city of Zaragoza in the home of Jose Javier Salvado Calvo, 50, Sanchez said.
Santamalia defended Salvador Calvo during his trial in 2005 when he was sentenced to 18 years in prison for shooting dead his wife, Patricia Maurel Conte, 29, she said.
The court ruled that he shot his wife 11 times with a hunting rifle before leaving her body in a field. She was standing as mayoress for Puebla de Hijar near Teruel when she was murdered.
Salvador Calvo was released on parole in 2017 when he began an affair with Santamalia. He reportedly jumped from a Teruel bridge when police confronted him.
Santamalia, a mother-of-one, was married and her husband reported her disappearance on Thursday evening.
Zaragoza’s mayor Pedro Santisteve paid tribute to the lawyer, saying she was “very sensitive towards human rights and the defence of personal values”.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez pledged to keep fighting gender violence, tweeting that “four women were murdered over the past days” in Spain by a partner, former partner or lover.
His tweet was seen as a reply to Vox, an extremist, anti-immigrant party that recently won seats in the southern region of Andalusia, that is calling for a halt to legal aid for women who claim they have been beaten by men, saying it unfairly favours women.
Last year 47 women, four of them in Aragon, were killed in gender violence in Spain.
The government in 2004 set up a hotline that does not appear on phone bills and offers free legal advice and special courts for victims.
In December, the murder of teacher Laura Luelmo, 26, sparked outrage across Spain. Her semi-clad body was found after a five-day search near the town of El Campillo in southwest Spain. Her neighbour and convicted killer Bernardo Montoya, 50, confessed to kidnapping, raping and beating her to death.
A protest in Zaragoza. Spanish women say they feel under siege. Picture credit: Wikimedia