COYHAIQUE – A Chilean man has been jailed after pulling out his girlfriend’s eyes in an attack intended to kill her.
Mauricio Ortega was sentenced to 26 years and 170 days in prison for attempted murder and other offences after the brutal attack on Nabila Rifo.
A court in the city of Coyhaique, in the southern Chilean region of Aysen, heard how Ortega launched himself at her in the middle of the street in an unreported location.
Rifo, 29, a mother of four, was found unconscious, with various skull fractures, some broken teeth and her eyes missing. She was also suffering from hypothermia.
The trial against Ortega, the father of two of Rifo’s children, has become symbolic of the issue of domestic violence in Chile.
Almost a year after the attack, the trial has taken 23 days and called 50 witnesses plus 12 forensics experts.
The victim had to participate in the trial and testified that she was often beaten by Ortega, who also abused her psychologically.
She said: “He bothered me for every single thing, for the food, that I cooked ‘badly’. He told me that I was a whore. Sometimes he even dragged me down the stairs.”
She told the court: “When I woke up, they (doctors) did not tell me a lot. I had my eyes covered. One day I asked a nurse why I was not able to see a light and she told me that I had suffered an accident.
“I asked her if I would not be able to see any more and she answered ‘no, but we are going to give you prosthetics’. ‘With prosthetics will I be able to see again?’ I asked, and she told me ‘no’.
“For me what I was living in that moment was a kind of hell.”
Mauricio Ortega was sentenced to 12 years and 180 days of prison for a crime of attempted “femicide” plus 12 years and 180 days for causing serious injury and 540 days for home intrusion.
The case has caused outrage among Chileans. Even president Michelle Bachelet commented on it.
Hoy se hizo justicia con Nabila Rifo. Es fundamental que el país defienda a mujeres de la violencia y diga con fuerza #ChileSinFemicidios
— Michelle Bachelet (@mbachelet) May 2, 2017
The president wrote on social media: “Today justice was done with Nabila Rifo. It is important that the country defends women from violence.”
Rifo used to work as a waitress and is as yet unable to look after herself. She says she wants to publicize her case to help other victims of domestic violence.