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April 27, 2017
Thursday, April 13, 2017

New femicide moves nation, as thousands mourn in solidarity

The discovery of 21-year-old Micaela Garcia’s body caused outrage after it was revealed that her murderer had been released early from a prison sentence for raping two women

The discovery of 21-year-old feminist activist Micaela García’s body in the town of Gualeguay, Entre Ríos province on April 8 struck a nerve in the country, leading thousands to demonstrate this week in protest of another femicide that could have been prevented. While there have been multiple femicides in the past, the latest murder of a young woman had caused outrage after it was learned that her murderer, 30-year-old Sebastian Wagner, had been previously serving a nine-year jail sentence after he was convicted of raping two women. But Judge Carlos Rossi, based on alleged positive conduct reports, authorised his release in July, 2016 before he had served half of his prison sentence. The Judge took a 20-day medical leave for “depression” after having receiving numerous criticisms, calls for his removal, and crowds of people gathering in front of his house demanding his resignation.

It was reported by local newspapers that when Rossi had authorised Wagner’s release he had ignored a penitentiary service report warning that the prisoner wasn’t respecting the prison’s regulations or participating in the activities that were given to him.

When brought to testify before the judge yesterday, Wagner admitted to the crime but he also implicated his employer Néstor Pavon. “Yes it was me, but also my employer too,” said Wagner. His admission came a day before forensic experts had confirmed that the hairs discovered in Wagner’s Renault belonged to Micaela.

The Prosecutor of Gualeguay Court 2, Ignacio Telenta, formally charged him for sexual abuse and homicide.

“Hopefully they give him a life sentence,” said her father in a facebook post yesterday.

The day Micaela’s body was discovered, hundreds of people went out into the streets in different parts of the country, in Buenos Aires, Rosario and Santa Fe, to demand justice. The Ni Una Menos (Not one more) activist movement that leads the fight against femicides in Argentina had organised a demonstration in the Plaza de Mayo square on Tuesday. Thousands of people had gathered in solidarity to demand justice for Micaela and action in preventing more of these crimes. In the past nine years, over 2,000 women have been murdered in the country. At the same time, Micaela’s parents led a ceremony to say goodbye to their daughter in Concepción del Uruguay, which hundreds of people attended in solidarity. Musician Carlos “Indio” Solari, who their daughter was a fan of, had called her parents to show his support, and sang an improvised song in her honour. Other public figures such as Pope Francis and former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner also had called her parents to express their condolences. The signs and posters that were carried by the demonstrators were in solidarity with Micaela and expressed their determination to put a stop to femicides for once and for all. “If you touch one of us, you touch all of us,” one said, another gave statistics over how there is a femicide occurring on average every 18 hours in the country.

A social activist

Despite her short life, Micaela was well known in her community for wanting to help others, and volunteered as a member of the Movimiento Evita political group and Ni Una Menos. In her free time, she would provide support to children who lived in shanty towns in the region of Concepción de Uruguay while studying to become a Physical Education teacher.

—Herald Staff

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