Supreme Court dismisses psychological injuries to two girls involved in sexist murder of their mother

The defendant, in the reenactment of the crime in the family apartment. In the circular image, Maguette Mbeugou. / LOUIS CALABOR

It reduced the father’s sentence from 37 to 29 years in prison because it was not proven that the four- and two-year-old girls had witnessed the crime or received psychiatric treatment. Convict stabbed partner 83 times and left daughters stranded in Bilbao house for seven hours

The Ndiaye sisters were four and two years old when their father, Senegalese Barra, stabbed his wife Magette up to 83 times in the family building at 25 Ollerías Altas street in Bilbao. It was September 24, 2018, and at an unknown hour of the night, the killer entered with several knives the room where the 25-year-old victim was sleeping with her daughters, which during the day served as a game room, with one sole aim: to kill her partner, whom he had abused since last May. Although she woke up and resisted, she found herself decapitated by Barra’s physical superiority. Slashing the neck was the end.

At 6 a.m. on the 25th, the convicted man left home, left the door of the house open, put up a travel pen to keep it from closing, and left the little girls inside the house. They were half naked, next to their mother’s body. Seven hours after the escape of the killer, a neighbor noticed the crying from the fifth floor. When he arrived, he saw that the girls were alone and playing on the playground. They told her that her mother “fell asleep because she was so tired.” He entered the apartment, saw a trail of blood, Maget’s body and called 112.

Specialists who visited the minors in a Diputación reception center gathered the “great damage” to their mental health that their mother’s murder had caused them. The older girl “has and presents” with PTSD-related psychological involvement, with significant cognitive, emotional and behavioral deterioration, “with a poor prognosis.” Today he is 8 years old. The minor, for her part, has shown “mutism and other emotional and behavioral effects” and her prognosis “is uncertain.” Both remain in treatment four years after Maggett’s murder.

Both the Second Division of the Court of Biscay and the Supreme Court of the Basque Country (TSJPV) upheld the sentence: 37 years in prison for crimes such as murder (25 years), abandonment of minors (two years and six months), habitual abuse (one year and eight months) and mental injuries with deterioration of family ties (four years in prison for each of them). In addition, he must compensate his daughters with 782,000 euros.

Legal requirements

The defense of Bara Ndiaye, who was arrested and spent four years in prison, reached the High Court. The cassation appeal, among other reasons, includes the incorrect application of articles 147.1 and 148.3 of the Penal Code, on the understanding that a crime of mental trauma cannot be charged when the legal and judicial requirements for this are not met.

On September 20, the court of the Second Chamber (Criminal), composed of five magistrates, met to dispose of the appeal. Presided over by Andrés Martínez Arrieta and with a presentation by Miguel Colmenero, they unanimously decided that this reason of the defense should be respected due to the lack of mental injuries to the girls and reduced the final sentence imposed on Barra from 37 to 29 years.

They explain that no specific treatment by a doctor has been proven, initially stating that the minors only received therapy from two psychologists. However, the court pointed out that there was no reference to a doctor who prescribed treatment or accepted from the position of an expert that, in the case of significant impairments, specific treatment was necessary for recovery.

In the same way, the Chamber recalls that in the proven facts it is said that “it is very likely” that the girls witnessed the crime or heard certain sounds during the aggression. But it has not been declared “definitively” proven that they saw the death of the mother. Thus, the judgment concluded, “it is not clearly established that the mental disorder of the minors was due to the perception that they witnessed the deadly attack or to the fact that they were abandoned for seven hours in the house.” A matter for which Bada was additionally already convicted of felony child abandonment.

The sentence “revictimizes” the girls

The controversial decision of the Supreme Court has a political resonance. The Basque Minister of Equality, Justice and Social Policies, Beatrice Artolazabal, today found the sentence “difficult to understand” and complained that once again those affected were minors, the “weakest link in the chain” who suffered “directly from the murder” of their mother.”We are talking about human rights and justice for Maggett and these two daughters will carry these consequences for the rest of their lives,” the councilor condemned.

Ione Goirizelaya, the lawyer for the murdered woman’s family, confirmed that the annulment of the mental injuries from the sentence “revictimizes” the minors. After describing the Supreme Court decision as “completely incomprehensible”, he said it revealed a “lack of gender perspective” and announced that he would appeal to the Constitutional Court, although he considered it “complicated”.

“There was a lot of nonsense in this procedure. This woman denounced the sexist violence, her procedure was archived, she was sent home, then she followed a series of procedures and administrative requirements, and it turned out that after all this process, she was eventually killed by her husband,” recalled the lawyer. In this sense, he pointed out that at the time the former president of the TSJPV, Juan Luis Ibarra, stated that “Justice has failed.” “It failed once, it failed again and I hope it will not fail a third time,” Goirizelaya decided today .

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