Death of Mari Luz may lead to national sex offender database
31 March 2008
MADRID – The government is considering creating a national database of sex offenders in response to the murder of five-year-old Mari Luz Cortés, allegedly by a man with a record of abusing small children.
"Creating a registry of paedophiles has not been ruled out," Julio Pérez, the acting secretary of state for justice, said on Cadena SER radio yesterday.
The measure would echo recent steps by other European countries to keep tabs on convicted sex offenders in an effort to prevent them from reoffending.
It could also be accompanied by a tightening of Spain’s Penal Code and efforts to avoid the judicial mistakes that allowed Mari Luz’s alleged killer, Santiago del Valle, to remain free despite two prior convictions for sexually abusing minors.
On Saturday night, prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero spoke by telephone with Mari Luz’s father, Juan José Cortés, and pledged that the government would do all it can to ensure justice is done.
"As prime minister, he acknowledged the mistakes that had happened and assured that those responsible would be held to blame," Cortés told reporters yesterday.
The government has said Del Valle was free because of "terrible and tragic" mistakes by the Spanish judicial system. A judge in Seville gave Del Valle a two-year suspended sentence in 2004 for abusing a nine-year-old girl because he was unaware that the 41-year-old Huelva native had previously been sentenced to two years and nine months for abusing his own daughter in 1999.
That sentence, which Del Valle appealed, was confirmed in 2005 but no court issued a warrant for his arrest.
[Copyright EL Pais/ A. Eatwell 2008]