Three jailed over 'privacy' sex scandal

2nd March 2005, Comments 0 comments

2 March 2005, MADRID-A Spanish appeals court is to jail a former high-ranking provincial official, an attorney and a former newspaper editor for their role in the clandestine videotaping and circulation of a video showing another newspaper editor having sex.

2 March 2005

MADRID-A Spanish appeals court is to jail a former high-ranking provincial official, an attorney and a former newspaper editor for their role in the clandestine videotaping and circulation of a video showing another newspaper editor having sex.

The video, distributed in journalistic and political circles, showed a Guinean woman, Exuperancia Rapu, and Pedro J. Ramirez, editor-in-chief of the Spanish daily El Mundo, having sex.

After several years of legal wrangling, a Madrid appeals court ruled that attorney Emilio Rodriguez Menendez, the former governor of the Basque district of Guipuzcoa, Jose Ramon Goñi Tirapu, and the former editor of the defunct daily Ya, Jose Javier Gomez Bleda, must serve the prison sentences handed down to them by a lower court.

The appeals court denied the defendants' motion for a suspension of the start of the prison sentences of two years for Rodriguez Menendez and Goñi Tirapu, and two-and-a-half years for Gomez Bleda.

The three men were charged with violating privacy laws, judicial officials said.

The appeals court ruled that, "given the seriousness of the conduct of the accused and the circumstances of the case, we cannot move to suspend the sentences."

The acts committed by the accused were "extremely serious and the crime affected the sphere of intimacy of a person," the court said.

In addition, "in this case the actions go beyond privacy crimes to a higher level, since the invasion of intimacy was a means to attack another fundamental right, that of general character, as well as freedom of the press."

Pedro J. Ramirez, who clashed with the 1982-1996 government of former Socialist Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez, revealed the existence of the video to the court and accused former Interior Ministry officials of having ordered the taping and distribution of the video to damage his reputation.

El Mundo reported that there was a political plot to destroy Ramirez in retaliation for his investigations of the "dirty war" waged in the 1980s by the so-called Anti-terrorist Liberation Groups (GAL) against the Basque terrorist group ETA.

Several former politicians, Civil Guard members and high-level Interior Ministry officials in the Gonzalez government were implicated in summary executions of suspected Basque terrorists during the dirty war.

In the sex scandal case, Exuperancia Rapu, the woman who appears in the video with Pedro J. Ramirez, Jose Maria Gonzalez Sanchez-Cantalejo, who made the video, and Angel Paton, an intermediary, were each sentenced to four years in prison.

The Madrid appeals court, in a July 2002 decision, ruled that it was probable that Jose Maria Gonzalez in 1997 proposed a "deal" to Rapu for making the video and later attempted to sell it.

Through Paton, Gonzalez and Rapu found a group of people interested in acquiring the video, including Goñi Tirapu and Rodriguez Menendez, who were responsible, according to the court documents, for providing the images to third parties.

The defunct Ya newspaper published, on the orders of editor Jose Javier Gomez Bleda, a series of images taken from the video and published them a second time, despite a court order against doing so, the appeals court said.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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