Spain: 2021, a year of high-profile crimes and convictions

Judges handed down prison sentences against the perpetrators of murders that shocked the nation, such as the killing of the schoolteacher Laura Luelmo.

The year 2021 has been one of convictions for some of Spain’s most infamous criminals. Among those sent to prison were Pedro Nieves and the killers he hired to ambush Javier Ardines, a councilman for the United Left party in Llanes, Asturias, as he left his home on the morning of August 16, 2018. Also sent down for 15 years was the so-called King of Cachopo, César Román, a bigwig in Madrid’s hospitality sector who was found guilty of killing and dismembering his ex-partner, 25-year-old Heidi Paz, on August 5, 2018. Meanwhile Bernardo Montoya, the man accused of kidnapping, raping and killing a young teacher named Laura Luelmo in December 2018 in El Campillo, Huelva, got Spain’s closest thing to a life sentence. In a decision handed down in early December, a Huelva court sentenced Montoya to prisión permanente revisable (permanent reviewable prison), which allows judges to convict criminals to life with a possibility of review after a minimum fixed term in cases considered to be particularly heinous.

But 2021 has also been a year of appalling crimes against children and young people.

It has also been a year of killings carried out by recidivist murderers such as Francisco Javier Almeida, the so-called “Monster from Lardero” who allegedly killed nine-year-old Alex after luring him from a park near his home in Lardero, in La Rioja, on October 28. Almeida had been on parole since April 8, 2020. His criminal record includes sexual assault for which he was given a seven-year sentence in 1993. Four years later, in May 1997, he was released. However, he was out for just 15 months. At the end of August 1998, he was arrested and imprisoned again; this time, for raping and murdering a real estate agent whom he stabbed 17 times when she took him to see an apartment in Logroño that he pretended to be interested in. The case called into question whether it is possible to return certain criminals back into society.