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The Swift Sentencing of Nahir Galarza and its Backlash

By | [email protected] | July 4, 2018 6:53pm

Nahir GalarzaNahir Galarza and Fernando Pastorrizzo

Following a judicial process that lasted just six months total, in the courts of Gualeguaychú, in the province of Entre Rios, 19-year old Nahir Galarza was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of boyfriend, 20-year old Fernando Pastorizzo. The judges who resolved this matter were Mauricio Derudi, Arturo Exequiel Dumó, and Alicia Vivian. Given this sentence, sources confirm that she’ll be 57 years old  before there’s a possibility of her release. She is the youngest person in Argentina’s history to receive a life sentence.

The first people to enter the courtroom, 11 minutes before, were family members of the victim – Gustavo Pastorizzo and his mother Silvia Mantegazza. Horacio Dargainz, meanwhile, advised Nahir to not attend the verdict hearing for security reasons. Regardless, the police ordered fences and troops to stand outside the back entrance in order to ensure Nahir’s safety. With that, neither she nor her parents were in attendance.

Judge Derudi endorsed the sentencing for life imprisonment for the crime of aggravated homicide with the use of a firearm.

The defense lawyers of Nahir, José Ostolaza and Horacio Dargainz, assured in that the gunshots were accidental and that Nahir was subjected to unrelenting domestic abuse, beatings, and psychological torment at the hands of Pastorizzo. During the hearing, however, the court rejected this proposal due to lack of evidence; this could have reduced Nahir’s overall sentence. Conversely, friends and relatives of Pastorizzo alleged that Nahir was the violent one, with Fernando on the receiving end of both physical and psychological abuse. Leaked WhatsApp audios and photos claimed to show evidence that she’d punched him on at least one occasion, leaving him with a black eye.

Derudi conveyed: “The court considered as proven that Fernando received a first shot in the back, at point-blank range, and a second shot from the front, when he was mortally wounded on the floor, with the bike over his legs. Both shots were neither accidental nor involuntary in any way, but were attempts to undermine the life of Fernando Pastorizzo, thus destroying the hypothesis of material and technical defense that occurred involuntarily.” Essentially, the second shot ruled out any possibility of accidental death.

Nahir consistently denied that she and Fernando were a couple: “We were never boyfriend and girlfriend, we’d just get together late at night to hook up and have sex,” she claimed. 

When the hearing concluded, Pastorizzo’s mother, Silvia Mantegazza, broke into tears – but at the same time, the 300 people who stood outside of the court in Gualeguaychú applauded the Court’s decision.

Unfortunately for Galarza, if her sentencing had been seven years ago, she would not have been given life imprisonment. Until 2012, one could only receive a life sentence for the murder of a legally constituted spouse; this did not include courtships or civil unions. However, in 2012 there was a reform of the Penal Code and change to Article 80, which meant it all types of relationships where murders occurred could be charged with life imprisonment.

The extensive coverage and strict sentencing of this one particular case, to some extent, created controversy and backlash in terms of justice for the women subject to violent domestic abuse in Argentina. Following the verdict, arguments that a 19-year-old girl with no criminal record does not necessarily need a life sentence to prove she can once again be integrated back into society came to the forefront. Additionally, the hundreds of women who are murdered each year, just for being a woman, have not yet seen justice for their deaths. Family members of these femicide victims are often left waiting years, even decades, caught up in the gears of a slowly-moving justice system.


#NiUnaMenos, the women’s rights activist movement that launched in 2015, has been protesting for years to promote change for women’s rights in respect to
machismo and domestic abuse in Argentina. According to a study they carried out, the first 15 days of 2018 saw 13 femicides registered in the country alone – one death every 28 hours. Unfortunately, the majority of these murders receive little to no coverage in the regional and national media outlets.

Raquel Vivano, the president of #NiUnaMenos, suggests that “the terrible statistics of femicides…illustrate the lack of political priority assigned by Mauricio Macrí’s government to end violence against women in our own country.”

What’s more, many of these murders could have been prevented. Vivanco added: “18 percent of the female victims murdered during the past year had previous reports [of violence from] their aggressors, and 12 percent of said women had protective measures put in place by the justice system, which speaks to the apathy of the state as a whole, all of those deaths could have been avoided.”

Conclusively, while Nahir’s murder charges litter the front pages of many news outlets, many of the women being mentally and physically abused every day are simply ignored. While critics don’t question Nahir’s guilt, they highlight an undeniable double standard and hypocritical reality that continues to plague today’s society in Argentina.