Kamikazes, the highway criminals
Almost every week the Civil Guard, traffic cameras or other drivers catch a kamikaze on Spanish roads. Some are drivers who make mistakes, like the 75-year-old German woman who caused an accident on the Valencia-Alicante motorway on January 9, after driving about 30 kilometers in the opposite direction. There’s also a suicidal driver or affected by a mental disorder, like the man with paranoid schizophrenia who in 2007 killed two people while driving in the opposite direction on the A-6 in Valladolid, convinced that it was the others who were going wrong. But most of the kamikazes are neither old nor suffering from any disorder, but rather
go to the top of alcohol, drugs or both substances, drive at high speed, despise the lives of others, make races and many times they do not even have a driving license, because Traffic or Justice have already withdrawn them previously.
Miraculously, most of the time no one crosses them in their frantic race and their case hardly occupies any space in the media. They are only talked about when they take someone’s life ahead of them. In those cases, almost all kamikazes are tried for reckless homicideAs if what happened had been a real accident. But the lawyers of some victims have already managed to have them prosecuted for intentional homicide, by showing that these drivers were fully aware of the risk involved in their behavior and that they could have avoided it, but they did not. As the lawyer Bárbara Royo stated in a trial against a kamikaze, “what is the difference between killing with a gun and killing with a car?”
The difference in the sentence between recklessness and intent is abysmal. For example, the kamikaze that killed Marta Soria Capdevila, 27 years old, on October 16, 2016, he was only sentenced to two years and six months in prison for reckless homicide. Sorín Ionut, 25 years old and a native of Romania, was driving without lights, at more than 125 kilometers per hour (the limit was 90) on the N-240 towards Lérida and was racing another high-end car, when he invaded the opposite lane and collided with Marta’s vehicle, which was thrown and ended up submerged in a canal. Sorín, who tested positive for cocaine, did not help the victim. According to Marta’s father, Carlos Soria, it took them half an hour to find their daughter because the occupants of the kamikaze car didn’t even say that another vehicle was involved. Despite their efforts, the family did not get the kamikaze to be tried for intentional homicide, but rather for recklessness, although his case did serve to toughen sentences for traffic crimes.
«It is a tradition in Spain that kamikazes sit on the bench for reckless homicide. This happens 99.9 percent of the time.», explains the lawyer Barbara Roy, which has achieved two pioneering sentences in Madrid that have condemned two kamikazes for homicide with eventual intent.
One of them is Kevin Cui, of Chinese origin, who has been sentenced to eight years in prison, after applying two extenuating circumstances: reparation of damage and blood alcohol level. His defense has appealed the length of the sentence. On September 15, 2019, Cui was driving drunk on the M-50, in the opposite direction and at 146 kilometers per hour, when he collided with the vehicle of Victor Lopez, aged 20, and killed him. Víctor’s parents had lost their other son, Roberto, who committed suicide a year earlier, and the new death was followed by another tragedy. Two weeks after the sentence was known, Víctor’s father took his own life in the same place as his son: he hanged himself on a basketball court.
Despite the tragic outcome, the case of Víctor López has opened a precedent of enormous importance for the victims, since for the first time in Madrid a kamikaze has sat before a jury and has been convicted of intentional homicide. “It is a very important battle -explains the lawyer- because the tradition in Spain is that the events behind the wheel are classified as simple accidents, in which no one is to blame, or if someone is to blame it is a reckless homicide. And this is not so: there are cases and cases. When a person gets into the car drunk and knows what they can face and that it can take a life, and there is an awareness that it can lead to death… That, from my point of view, is classified as an intention eventually, not as reckless homicide.”
Ana Novella, president of Stop Accidentes, also agrees that these types of claims cannot be called “accidents”. In your opinion, “90 percent of cases are not accidents, because they are neither casual nor accidental, and could have been avoided. They are road accidents that are due to the fact that the driver has not complied with the rules, either due to improper speed, alcohol or drug use or not respecting the signs, “he says.
At the exit of the disco
The second groundbreaking sentence came days after the jury returned a guilty verdict for Victor’s death. The same lawyer, Bárbara Royo, had another kamikaze trial. It was about Paul C., who on December 8, 2019, after leaving a nightclub in Alcorcón, drunk and drugged, joined the A-5 in the opposite direction. Ten kilometers later he collided with the car he was driving Javier N.P., and I kill him. Javier had just left his wife at the station to go to work and was returning home to take care of his young daughter. The defendant’s lawyers “did not want to go to trial and agreed with me on the eventual fraud. They accepted civil responsibility, in exchange for me lowering the sentence a little, to seven years, “explains Royo.
The lawyer has another trial pending against a driver from Barcelona. “East did not drive in the opposite direction, but he was drunk and he was a repeat offender. He had another conviction for the same time ago. This case has begun to be instructed as reckless homicide, but the lawyer is going to ask that it be transformed into possible intent.
The Prosecutor’s Report
Neither Traffic nor the Road Safety Prosecutor’s Office provide data on kamikazes. Nor does the Prosecutor’s Report refer to them in particular, but it does provide very revealing data on the so-called road crime. Last year, despite being an atypical year due to confinement, 42,448 sentences of deprivation of the right to drive were issued, 1,562 legal proceedings were opened for driving at excessive speed (75% more than in 2019), 38,244 convictions were handed down for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, 24,156 for driving without a license, 1,433 for reckless driving and 82 for doing so with contempt for the lives of others.
Only last December, the media picked up half a dozen cases of kamikazes. On the 11th, a 27-year-old driver, drunk, drove twelve kilometers in the opposite direction on the La Coruña highway in Madrid until it collided with another car at the height of the Moncloa Arch and caused seven injuries. On the 14th, a 38-year-old kamikaze traveling at high speed was arrested in Vigo. He had no driver’s license or vehicle insurance, tested positive for cannabis and had more than a hundred kilos of burnt copper in the trunk.
On December 16, the Mossos d’Esquadra arrested a 37-year-old man in Torredembarra (Tarragona) who skipped a blood alcohol test, traveled ten kilometers in the opposite direction, without lights, collided with a motorcyclist, who was injured, and with several police cars. He was driving under the influence of drugs and did not have a driver’s license.
On the 20th, another drunken man was arrested in Almería after driving more than 30 kilometers in the opposite direction on the Mediterranean highway. On the 25th, a 40-year-old driver who was traveling in the opposite direction at high speed in Son Banya (Mallorca) collided with a tree and his vehicle overturned. And on December 28, a man with clear signs of drunkenness He drove a van in the opposite direction in the Granada municipality of Cúllar Vega, colliding with several parked vehicles and another head-on, whose driver he threatened. He fled from the Civil Guard, crashed again, tried to run over the agents and finally crashed into a flower pot, where he was reduced by the civil guards.