There aren’t words to describe the courage of Linda Loaiza (warning: unutterably wrenching story, graphic images). I can hardly bear to read what happened to her, much less imagine surviving it and continuing to fight.
In July of 2001, 18-year-old Linda Loaiza was rescued by the Caracas police in Luis Carrera Almoina’s apartment. She had been repeatedly raped and brutally tortured for four months [horror elided]. After undergoing nine operations, Linda is still recovering. The lifelong physical effects of her ordeal include cataracts, impaired hearing, reduced movement, facial scarring and an inability to bear children.
The accused perpetrator, Luis Carrera Almoina, had been previously arrested for torturing his then partner in 1999. He is the son of Gustavo Carrera Damas, who at the time was president of a major university in Caracas. After being detained and put under house arrest, Carrera Almoina attempted to flee with the help of his father. He was captured the next day, and his father was later charged with obstructing judicial action.
Linda Loaiza’s case was deferred by the justice system 29 times and 59 judges declined to prosecute the man accused of torturing her. In August of 2004, nearly three years had passed since Carrera Almoina was charged with attempted homicide, rape and torture, and the case was approaching an expiration date, after which the accused would walk free of charges. In response, Loaiza staged a hunger strike on the steps of the Supreme Court. After 13 days on the steps, the media attention and social pressure Linda generated caused the Supreme Tribunal for Justice (the country’s highest judicial body) to call for a trial to begin.
In an attempt to exploit an outrageous piece of the Venezuelan Penal Code which calls for a reduced sentence for crimes against sex workers, Carrera Almoina’s defense claimed that Loaiza was part of a prostitution ring. If sentenced to jail time, Carrera Almoina would have only have had to serve a fifth of the normal sentence. No evidence was presented in support of these claims, and Loaiza has consistently denied them. Nevertheless, on October 21, 2004, the judge acquitted Carrera Almoina and his father of all charges, citing a “lack of evidence