Demonstrations continue after a Spanish court cleared five men of the gang rape of an 18-year-old woman at the 2016 San Fermin bull-running festival in Pamplona, convicting them of the lesser crime of sexual abuse.

People shout slogans while holding up pictures during a protest outside the courts of Aviles, after a Spanish court sentenced five men accused of the group rape of an 18-year-old woman at the 2016 San Fermin bull-running festival each to nine years in prison for the lesser charge of sexual abuse.
People shout slogans while holding up pictures during a protest outside the courts of Aviles, after a Spanish court sentenced five men accused of the group rape of an 18-year-old woman at the 2016 San Fermin bull-running festival each to nine years in prison for the lesser charge of sexual abuse. (Reuters)

Tens of thousands of Spaniards took to the streets of Pamplona on Saturday to protest against the acquittal of five men accused of gang raping an 18-year-old woman at the city's bull-running festival.

Demonstrators have filled streets across the country since the court ruling on Thursday, leading Spain's conservative government to say it will consider changing rape laws.

The men were acquitted of sexual assault, which includes rape, and sentenced to nine years for the lesser offence of sexual abuse.

The men, aged 27 to 29, had been accused of raping the woman at the entrance to an apartment building in Pamplona on July 7, 2016, at the start of the week-long San Fermin festival, which draws tens of thousands of visitors.

The five, all from the southern city of Seville, filmed the incident with their smartphones and then bragged about it on a WhatsApp messaging group where they referred to themselves as "La Manada", or "The Pack" in English.

Thousands of women marched together with their hands raised at the protest, which police said passed off peacefully.
Thousands of women marched together with their hands raised at the protest, which police said passed off peacefully. (AFP)
Women hold up a sign reading in basque language, ''Our Word'' as they shout slogans during a protest against sexual abuse in Pamplona.
Women hold up a sign reading in basque language, ''Our Word'' as they shout slogans during a protest against sexual abuse in Pamplona. (AFP)
An online petition calling for the disqualification of the judges who passed the sentence gathered more than 1.2 million signatures by Saturday.
An online petition calling for the disqualification of the judges who passed the sentence gathered more than 1.2 million signatures by Saturday. (AFP)
Adriana Lastra, a top official with Spain's main opposition Socialist party, said the court ruling was
Adriana Lastra, a top official with Spain's main opposition Socialist party, said the court ruling was "disgraceful". "It's the product of a patriarchal and macho culture." (AFP)
Women hold up their hands as they shout slogans during a protest outside the Pamplona court where the judgement was made.
Women hold up their hands as they shout slogans during a protest outside the Pamplona court where the judgement was made. (AFP)
Ana Botin, the influential head of Santander, one of Spain's biggest banks, tweeted that the ruling was
Ana Botin, the influential head of Santander, one of Spain's biggest banks, tweeted that the ruling was "a step back for women's security" while former judge Manuela Carmena, now Madrid mayor, said it "does not meet women's demand for justice." (AFP)
Source: TRTWorld and agencies