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Last Updated: Saturday, 23 October, 2004, 01:37 GMT 02:37 UK
Rape acquittal angers Venezuelans
The acquittal of a man accused of holding a woman prisoner and repeatedly raping her in Venezuela has prompted widespread outrage.

Luis Carrera was arrested after Linda Loaiza was found bound, burned and beaten in his rented apartment in 2001.

But a judge threw out the case, and ordered an inquiry into claims that Ms Loaiza and her father were running a prostitution ring.

Ms Loaiza, 21, vowed to "take action so justice prevails".

When police found Ms Loaiza in 2001 the country was shocked at pictures showing her mutilated face.

'Absurd'

She was found to have burns and severe genital injuries.

Mr Carrera, the son of a wealthy former university president, denied charges of kidnapping, rape and attempted murder, and said Ms Loaiza was hurt while working as a prostitute.

In dropping the case, the judge said there was a lack of evidence, and said Ms Loaiza appeared to have been telling lies.

"It's totally absurd," said the alleged victim after the decision, her face still disfigured with scars.

"This is a sexist sentence," said Maria Alvarez, the government-funded National Defender of Women's Rights.

Hunger strike

State prosecutors demanded that judge Rosa Cadiz be dismissed.

Parliamentarian Julio Borges said: "This has no justification... we must all fight against impunity in this country."

His opposition Justice First party and others organised a street rally on Friday in protest at the ruling.

Since the case was filed three years ago, it has been overseen by 59 judges and deferred 29 times.

In August Ms Loaiza staged a 13-day hunger strike on the steps of Venezuela's Supreme Court in protest at a lack of progress.

Critics say the case is indicative of Venezuela's inadequate judicial system.

They say legal reforms pushed through by President Hugo Chavez in 1999 have failed to correct the weaknesses.


SEE ALSO:
Storm over Venezuela court reform
30 Apr 04  |  Americas


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