Barely three meters away separate the parents of Álex, the 9-year-old boy suffocated and sexually assaulted in Lardero (La Rioja) in October 2021, from his alleged murderer, Francisco Javier Almeida, a repeat criminal, whose impassivity shocks each session of the trial with the integrity of the child's family.
The Provincial Court of Logroño has hosted, this week, the first five sessions of the trial with a people's court against Almeida, accused of the crimes of murder and sexual assault of Álex, for which the prosecutor, the private prosecution, by his parents, and the popular, by the Clara Campoamor association, request the sentences of permanent reviewable prison and 15 years in prison.
The little boy's mother has only missed one session and part of another, while his father came to appear in a conference, in which he transmitted the heartbreaking testimony that, since Álex's death, everyone is "dead in life" , a circumstance that has been confirmed by psychologists who have declared as experts.
Added to the harshness of losing such a young son in tremendous circumstances is the media coverage that the trial has had, with 85 accredited journalists from 40 media outlets -23 of them nationwide-, which represents the greatest coverage deployed since the Court Superior of Justice of La Rioja.
The presence of the jury in the courtroom forces the parties to delve into the technical details of the autopsy or show photographs of the corpse, which increases, if at all possible, the grief of the family and the indignation over events that "could avoided", according to the boy's great-uncle, Gonzalo Martín, since Almeida had been on probation since April 2020.
Martín has been the spokesperson for the family since, three days after the crime, a large concentration of condemnation was called in the Entre Ríos de Lardero park, where Álex was playing dressed up for the Halloween party when, according to witnesses, Almeida took him away "grabbed by the chest" to his house, located about 100 meters away.
Álex's great-uncle, who has not missed any session and will not do so until the end of the trial, predictably this Tuesday, March 27, needed to "see the face" of Almeida, but he looks away from the screen or closes the eyes when the images of the child reflect the brutality with which he was murdered.
"I'm going to be there, I'm going to have a bad time, yes, I'm already sick, but I'm going to be there," he told reporters these days, because, "wherever Álex is, I'm not going to leave him alone. No I have left him from minute zero and I will be there until the end".
The family maintains the "fight" for justice to be done for this crime and wants Álex's murder to be the last to occur by a repeat offender who is on probation, as has happened in this case, Martín has pointed out .
Almeida, who will turn 56 in April, has spent half his life in jail. In 1993 he was sentenced to 7 years in prison for sexually assaulting a girl. In 1998, he murdered a real estate agent whom he had previously sexually assaulted, for which he was also tried by a people's court and received a 30-year prison sentence.
In April 2020, he was released from prison on probation and settled in Lardero, a municipality in the Logroño metropolitan area, in a rental apartment located a few meters from a school and a playground.
Weeks before Álex's crime, as reported in the trial, he dedicated himself to following the girls around the neighborhood, watching the little ones from his window or sitting on a park bench and even invited a minor to come up to his house to clean the cage of his birds.
The mother of one of these girls wanted to file a complaint, but the Lardero Local Police ruled it out because "nothing had happened, nor did she have anyone against her."
Last January, in a legal carambola, the application of the only yes is yes law allowed the sentence for the sexual assault committed in 1998 to be reduced from 10 to 8 years, but nothing changed in his procedural situation because he was in prison provisional since October 31, 2021, first in the Logroño prison and, since November 4 of that year, in the Segovia prison.
So far, no psychiatrist has been able to prove in the trial that Almeida suffers from some mental pathology. As the prosecutor stated in his preliminary report, "evil exists in the world: Almeida is not sick, he does what he wants, he can avoid it and he doesn't."
The lawyer for the private and popular prosecution, Alicia Redondo, alerted the jurors that they would go through "hard and very unpleasant" days, after which they would have "no doubt" that Almeida is the author of this "sanguinary" death ".
The legal counsel who defends him and for whom he requests acquittal reminded the jury that, like them, he participates in the procedure "by chance, without spurious, economic or professional interests", and, up to now, justifies the acts of the defendant in a state of intoxication that neither witnesses nor forensic experts have confirmed.
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