Chilean anarchist Rodrigo Lanza is serving 18.5 years in prison in Spain, accused of homicide in the death of a fascist in 2017. Rodrigo had already spent 9 years in prison for the Ciutat Morta case for leaving an agent of the Barcelona Urban Guard quadriplegic from a rock blow.
The following is a statement on Rodrigo’s sentencing, originally published in Spanish on the anarchist website Todo Por Hacer.
Exactly two years ago, at dawn on December 8, 2017, the Falangist legionaire [soldier in the Spanish Legion, founded by the fascist dictator Franco] Víctor Laínez died in a bar in Zaragoza. He had a blow to the neck, but he had fallen on his back, so the wound could have been caused by falling to the ground. If the death had been intentional or not, or the reason why it could have been caused were elements that were not clear in the first hours and days following the events. It was known that Laínez had argued with Rodrigo Lanza, a well-known Chilean anarchist in the city, who was arrested shortly after the events. Rodri said from the beginning that the ex-military man had called him “sudaca” [a racist term for someone from Latin America] and had threatened him with a knife and that, being threatened, he punched him in the face, which caused him to fall back. He had no idea he was dead.
THE MEDIA CONDEMNATION
The media had already condemned him. Given the filtered information that supported the theses of the family of the deceased and the accusation of Vox, they passed their presumption of innocence and reported that Rodrigo, without any provocation, hit Lainez from behind with a blunt object, just because he had seen that he was wearing braces with the flag of Spain… Obviously, with this media scenario, Rodri went to pretrial detention.
Recall that just two months had passed since the Catalan referendum on October 1. In the midst of the Procés crisis, to tell that a man had been murdered exclusively for carrying a Spanish symbol was the perfect way to show where the anti-Spanish drift led by the Catalans was leading us.
To all this, it should be added that Rodri had been sentenced in 2008 to five years in prison for allegedly leaving a Barcelona Urban Guard a quadriplegic during the eviction of a squatter in the famous 4-F case. He is also one of the protagonists of the popular documentary Ciutat Morta, which exposed all the irregularities of the case, how random the sentences were and the torture suffered by detainees who were not investigated by any judicial authority. With his new detention, the police and politicians had been able to claim revenge.
THE “JUDGMENT OF THE TYRANTS”
At the beginning of last November, the “Trial of the Suspenders” (as the media call it) started at the Provincial Court of Zaragoza, before a popular jury. Rodrigo Lanza faced a sentence of 25 years in prison for a crime of murder with aggravating hate - hate directed against the Spaniards, as if they were a protected minority.
In mid-November the jury issued its verdict: it had not been proven that Víctor Laínez wore braces with the flag of Spain, it was proven that he and Rodri argued. It was not proven that the accused hit him on the back with a blunt object, nor that he intended to kill him. The facts, in short, would not be constitutive of a crime of murder with aggravating delusion of hate, but of injuries resulting from reckless homicide.
The maximum penalty to be imposed would be four years in prison, unless the judge decided to increase the sentence by one degree, in which case he could go up to six years. A distress for him, but a victory compared to what could have happened.
On November 26, the magistrate issued his sentence. We do not know if the pressures achieved their goal, but the truth is that he opted for the toughest option and, because two aggravating factors concurred, he increased the penalty by one degree (exceeding the maximum of four years that he had to fall) and condemned him to five. This was something that was initially ruled out because an extenuating performance by outburst had been applied. In addition, the obligation to compensate the family of Laínez has been imposed as 200,000 euros.
It is clear that all parties will appeal the judgment, first before the Superior Court of Justice of Aragon and then before the Supreme Court. The defense will do so by asking that the penalty be reduced by one degree and that the maximum that can be imposed be one year; the prosecution will ask that the proven facts be reviewed and a conviction imposed for murder and hate crime.
If Rodrigo fulfilled half of the sentence (until June 2020) without it being final, he must be automatically released. But, once the penalty is firm (that is, after the Supreme Court issues a sentence), he must return to prison, although he may already qualify for exit permits. The problem is that the Penitentiary Regulation requires that the inmate has satisfied the civil responsibility (compensation) in order to be able to enjoy these penitentiary benefits, so, unless every month he pays something to the family of Laínez, it is possible that he will serve the full sentence.
In 2020, Rodri was retried for "murder" and sentenced to 20 years. The Superior Court of Justice of Aragon (TSJA) declared null and void the first trial with a popular jury held in November 2019 in the Court of Zaragoza, in which the popular jury found Lanza guilty of "reckless injury causing death" that resulted in a sentence of 5 years. The Supreme Court later reduced his sentence to 18.5 years by eliminating the ideological aggravating factor.