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Story Publication logo January 25, 2022

For Úrsula, for All the Others



They are supposed to protect, but Argentine police officers often commit femicides. The deaths of...

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A poster of a woman who died
Úrsula, 18, was killed by her ex-boyfriend after she had reported him several times before. Image by Sarah Pabst/Der Spiegel. Argentina, 2021.

The following is an excerpt of the original report in Der Spiegel and has been translated from German. To read that full report, click here.

Úrsula is dead, the perpetrator convicted — and now? Most reports about a femicide are published when they have just taken place. Popular rage is unleashed in demonstrations — or as long as the court case lasts. Then comes the silence, and the families find themselves alone with many questions while attention turns to the next victim. In this case, the text asks: what now, after the conviction of the killer?

This is the specific case of Úrsula, an 18-year-old who was stabbed to death by her ex-boyfriend, a police officer. After the femicide, it emerged that the perpetrator should have been in prison when he killed Úrsula. He had been accused of abusing an underage, disabled girl. As early as January 2021, the public prosecutor's office considered this to be proven and requested the imprisonment of Matías Ezequiel Martínez. But January is high summer in Argentina, the judge in charge didn't issue the arrest warrant, Martínez remained free — and killed Úrsula on February 8. "The judge probably preferred to sit by the pool," Úrsula's mother says bitterly.

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Parents of a victim sit at a dinner table in their home
Úrsula's parents Patricia Nasutti and Adolfo Bahillo in their kitchen: "We will hold everyone accountable who could have prevented the murder." Image by Sarah Pabst/Der Spiegel. Argentina, 2021.

Úrsula's killer got a life sentence, but her parents' fight for justice is not over. The fact that the judge who could have prevented the murder is still in office is unbearable for them. The parents of the dead girl want to sue him and set an example: Those who do not fulfill their duties must expect consequences, even if it is a judge. "We owe it to Úrsula," says her father. "We're doing it for her and also in order to prevent future victims of possible femicides."

Files in a office
Overburdened judiciary in Buenos Aires: Thousands of open cases for three prosecutors. Image by Sarah Pabst/Der Spiegel. Argentina, 2021.



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Criminal Justice

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Three women grouped together: an elderly woman smiling, a transwoman with her arms folded, and a woman holding her headscarf with a baby strapped to her back.


Gender Equality

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