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Argentina: Two men jailed in landmark teenage murder case

March 24, 2023

The rape and murder of Lucia Perez in 2016 triggered widespread anger and prompted the first-ever national women's strike in Argentina.

Marta Perez und Matias Perez, the mother and brother of Lucia Perez, take part in a demonstration for women's rights in her name
Thursday's decision was the second time Argentine justice looked at the caseImage: Tomas F. Cuesta/AP/picture alliance

A court in Argentina found two men guilty of rape and murder Thursday in a landmark case that fueled the Ni Una Menos (Not One Less) social movement decrying violence against women and girls in the region.

Lucia Perez was 16 years old when she was raped and killed in the city of Mar de Plata in 2016. She had met the suspects one day before her death, when they approached her to sell her cannabis.

The next day, the two men took Perez to one of their homes, where she later died after being sexually assaulted.

In 2018, judges found the two suspects guilty drug dealing, but were absolved of the rape and murder charges based on the notion that consent could not be established.

Perez's murder and the outcome of the case then triggered widespread anger, prompted the first-ever national women's strike in Argentina.

An appeals court rejected the sentence, saying it lacked "gender perspective" and that it was "incompatible with international human rights law," setting the stage for a new trial.

On Thursday, the court sentenced one of the men to life in prison for rape and murder, while the second man was found guilty of accessory in the crime and was sentenced to 15 years behind bars.

People gather for the women's strike and protest to reject violence against women and girls
The murder sparked a feminist movement that spread across the regionImage: Matias Jovet/NurPhoto/picture alliance

Argentine president calls for justice

The Ni Una Menos movement began in Argentina in 2015 and has spread through Latin America, where activists demand that more is done to stop gender-based violence

At least 4,473 Argentine women were murdered in 2021, according to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Argentine President Alberto Fernandez visited Perez's family on International Women's Day, earlier this month. Fernandez called for justice in the case, criticized the Argentine justice system for its ruling in the previous trial.

"In the name of all of the other girls who we are also missing, we are not going to permit impunity," Fernandez said in a tweet.

jcg/ar (EFE, Reuters)

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