Lawyers for the two men on trial over the death of Lucía Pérez called for the defendants to be acquitted at Mar del Plata Criminal Court 2 on Tuesday. The defendants are accused of killing Pérez by plying her with cocaine and then raping her.
The prosecution and Pérez’s family requested a life sentence for one of the defendants and 20 years in prison for the other.
It is the second time Matías Gabriel Farías and Juan Pablo Offidani have stood trial over Pérez’s 2016 death. In 2018, they were controversially acquitted of femicide and sexual abuse, sparking feminist protests around the country.
The two men were only found guilty of drug dealing charges and sentenced to eight years in prison by Judges Facundo Gómez Urso, Aldo Carnevale and Pablo Viñas from the Mar del Plata Criminal Court 1. Feminist lawyers lambasted the judges for assuming that the sexual encounter had been consensual.
In 2020, a Buenos Aires Province appeals court annulled the ruling on the grounds that it was based on gender stereotypes, sending the accused back to trial. 28 witnesses testified before the court in the second trial, which started on February 7.
The prosecution and the Pérez family asked the court to sentence Matías Farías to life in prison on the grounds that he was “criminally responsible” for the teen’s death, and a 20-year sentence for Juan Pablo Offidani as a “necessary participant”. The prosecution alleges that the pair abused their power as older men and provided her with drugs. They stand charged of sexual abuse “with carnal access” and femicide.
The defense lawyers asked for both men to be acquitted, claiming that the scale of the social controversy sparked by the case biased the judges.
A verdict is expected on March 17.
Lucía Pérez died at Farías’s house on October 8, 2016 after being given cocaine and, the prosecution alleges, raped. Her story shook the nation, sparking the first women’s strike in Argentina, on October 19, organized by the Argentine feminist movement. The case made international news, with feminist solidarity marches taking place across the country and abroad.
Lucía contacted Farias through a friend, asking to buy cannabis, which Farias brought to her at the entrance of her school. On October 16, 2016, Farías contacted her asking to meet up again, and Offidani picked her up and took her to the accused’s house.
Although it is unclear what happened during the hours that she spent there, according to the autopsy, Lucia died of pulmonary oedema and congestion, with a high probability of cocaine poisoning. Her body also showed signs of sexual activity.
Farías and Offidani, along with a third suspect called Alejandro Maciel (who died in 2020), took Lucía’s body to a health care center in Playa la Serena. According to them, she had fainted in bed after having sex. Offidani and Farias were detained on October 9, and Maciel hid from justice but was found and detained in the nearby town of Santa Clara on October 12.
According to the judges of the first trial, the prosecutor had misinterpreted the autopsy, leading to the belief that that Pérez was raped and had died of her injuries. However, the judges ruled that since it was impossible to prove that there had been no consent, the accused were innocent.
The ruling was highly criticized for lacking a gender perspective.