Eva Blanco – When justice expires – Claudia Estrella, Spain

 

The 20th of April, 1997 was a normal day for 17-year-old Eva Blanco, until, with no forewarning, her life was cruelly and abruptly ended. The night of the aforementioned date, a man by the name Ahmed Chelh stabbed the adolescent 20 times in the neck, nape and back, and left evidence of sexual abuse. All this happened just seven kilometers away from her house, in the locality of Algete, Madrid. The killer was a Spanish citizen from Morocco, who fled Spain two years after the murder and who was never traced again. Until now.

During these 18 years of uncertainty and frustration, the police had opened more than 100 investigation lines that had never led to anything beyond presumed suspects that ended up not being the true killer. More than 1500 people were investigated with hoping to find the “one”.

Ahmed’s DNA, which was found on Eva’s body, was crucial to the success of the case, and it is partly thanks to this careless mistake by the murderer that the police was able to arrest him on the 1st of October 2015 in Besançon, France, where he had fled in 1999. To this day, no clear motive as to why he killed her has been discovered.

This felony would not had had the impact it did in Spain if it weren’t for a reason: in this country, murder cases have a limited life span of 20 years. That is to say that if a homicide is committed and the murderer is not found within the next 20 years, the case is closed and policemen will not work on it anymore. But what if the killer is found after that expiration date? Does that mean he is pardoned? That he doesn’t have to pay for what he did? In Spain, all crimes expire, except for genocides and terrorist attacks. The controversy this issue sparks is quite obvious: why should criminals be able to get away with felonies? There have been cases where corrupt politicians, murderers, or robbers admitted to their crimes, but it was useless, given that it was too late for the Spanish justice system to do much about it.

This dilemma also presents another important issue: Is the life of a person who dies because of a terrorist more valuable than the life of someone who is murdered in front of their home? Why do some crimes expire whilst others do not? Spanish AVT (Asociación Víctimas contra el Terrorismo, which means ”Association for Victims of Terrorism”) claims that all deaths should be considered as equal, no matter what the reasons behind these deaths are. The AVT and many Spanish citizens work against the clock so that time is not a justification of innocence.

Bringing a small measure of peace to Eva Blanco’s loved ones, policemen were able to find her killer a year and a half before the expiration date of her death, and justice was finally made in her name.  

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