A Spanish mother has taken revenge on the man who raped her 13-year-old daughter at knifepoint by dousing him in petrol and setting him alight. He died of his injuries in hospital on Friday.
Antonio Cosme Velasco Soriano, 69, had been sent to jail for nine years in 1998, but was let out on a three-day pass and returned to his home town of Benejúzar, 30 miles south of Alicante, on the Costa Blanca.
While there, he passed his victim’s mother in the street and allegedly taunted her about the attack. He is said to have called out “How’s your daughter?”, before heading into a crowded bar.
Shortly after, the woman walked into the bar, poured a bottle of petrol over Soriano and lit a match. She watched as the flames engulfed him, before walking out.
The woman fled to Alicante, where she was arrested the same evening. When she appeared in court the next day in the town of Orihuela, she was cheered and clapped by a crowd, who shouted “Bravo!” and “Well done!”
A judge ordered her to be held in prison and undergo psychiatric tests, provoking anger from friends and neighbours, who have set up a petition calling for her release.
Soriano suffered 60 per cent burns in the attack on June 13 and was airlifted to a specialist unit. He survived for 11 days before succumbing to his injuries.
It is understood that the woman, who cannot be named because of laws safeguarding the identity of rape victims, claims to have no recollection of the attack which took place in the Bar Mary, just 300 yards from the family home.
As decorators painted over the blackened walls of his bar last week, Antonio Ferrendez Lopez told how Soriano had walked in at lunchtime.
“The place was packed with people eating. I was sitting at a table and Soriano was standing at the bar very close to me when the woman walked in,” he said. “She didn’t acknowledge anyone but walked up to Soriano, who was drinking a coffee, put her hand on his shoulder and turned him round to face her.
“Then she pulled the bottle she was carrying from under her arm and began to tip it over him. At first I didn’t realise what was happening, but then I smelt the petrol. I jumped up and tried to grab her, but when she struck a match I got clear.
“The petrol was in a pool around Soriano, and she threw the match into it. It ignited with a whoosh, and he screamed and staggered about covered in flames. As people rushed outside to escape the flames, she just looked at him, then turned and walked away.”
Customers helped Mr Lopez put out the fire with extinguishers and doused Soriano with water until paramedics arrived.
Soriano’s attack on the woman’s teenage daughter took place in 1998. The girl was going to buy a loaf of bread when Soriano snatched her from the street, threatened her with a knife and raped her. Her mother is said to have suffered mental illness ever since.
Soriano was convicted of the rape and ordered to serve 13 years in jail. The sentence was later reduced to nine years on appeal.
The woman’s lawyer, Joaquín Galant, told The Sunday Telegraph last night: “The family has suffered a double tragedy. First the attack on their daughter and now this. Both the father and his daughter would like to express their sadness at the death of Soriano.”
Earlier, Mr Galant said that the woman did not deserve to be kept in prison. “For seven years she has been deeply affected by what was done to her daughter,” he said. “This man, fresh from prison and asking how her daughter was, might be considered to have provoked her.”