Human Rights

The Antonia Barra Case: How the Events Unfolded

On Oct. 19, 2019, Antonia Barra (20) committed suicide three weeks after she told her friends that Martín Pradenas Dürr (28) had raped her. The Barra case gained media attention in mid-May when a video surfaced showing her struggling to walk while Pradenas pulled her towards the cabin he was renting. Since then, other women have come forward with accusations against Pradenas, and the Judicial Power of Chile has officially filed five felony charges against him.

On Jun. 21, the Judicial Power of Chile formally charged Martín Pradenas Dürr with five criminal charges of a sexual nature, one which includes the rape of Antonio Barra in September 2019. Barra killed herself three weeks after the event and just one day after Pradenas allegedly called and threatened her. A key to the case might be a video released by CHV noticias, which shows Barra and Pradenas walking towards a cabin where the alleged attack occurred. The lawyer representing the Barra family, Roberto Celedón, describes Barra in the video saying that, “she is not a person who is participating. She is a person who is not in control.”

Social media have brought a lot of attention to this particular case, especially after Barra’s family came forward to say that the court in Temuco would not allow them to publish anything against Pradenas. Supporters of Barra took to the internet to denounce Martín, spreading the word of his alleged actions since the family could not. In addition, various organizations such as Red Chilena contra la Violencia hacia las Mujeres (Chilean Network Against Violence Against Women), publically condemn Pradenas for his alleged actions.

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What Allegedly Occurred With Antonia Barra?

On Sept. 17 2019, Antonia Barra and her friends arrived at a club where, according to witness statements and other evidence, Pradenas approached her. They eventually left the club, where the surveillance video captured the two – the same video the prosecution is using as evidence against Pradenas. The next morning, Barra’s friends went searching for her.

According to her friends, she had called them to come get her from a cabin in Pucón where the alleged rape occurred. According to the official story presented to the prosecutor’s office in Temuco, she was talking with a shaky voice and then sent a WhatsApp message saying she had been raped. When she emerged from the cabin, she was crying and pleading with her friends to never discuss what had happened. Three weeks later, she was dead. 

In the days following, Barra’s friends and family claimed that they didn’t notice much change in her behavior. It wasn’t until Oct. 13 that this changed. As confirmed by phone records and other evidence, Barra received a call from her ex-boyfriend, who was asking about what had happened during her holiday. She revealed to him what had happened, and he started secretly recording the call, which he later surrendered to the prosecution. Immediately after the call with her ex, according to Antonia’s father, Pradenas called and allegedly threatened her. Pradenas denies threatening Antonia. 

Serial Rapist?

Antonia Barra is not the only woman to accuse Pradenas of rape. Two days after Barra’s suicide, a girl, only 13 at the time of the incident, came forward saying that Pradenas had raped her between December 2012 and January 2013. Thereafter, additional women came forward and now there are six who are accusing Pradenas of sexual assault, the first of which allegedly took place in November 2010. 

One woman claimed she woke up with injuries, not remembering anything, after a night at a party that Pradenas had also attended. She confirmed that she hadn’t come forward before because she had blamed herself for what had happened. Pictures of her assault apparently have been circulating in Pradenas’s group chats in WhatsApp. 

According to a report by Chile’s investigations police (PDI), Pradenas has a modus operandi – he takes advantage of social situations to find victims – and he has the personality traits of a psychopath, including self-centeredness and low empathy. CHV released a report from the Temuco sex crimes brigade, which confirms reports against Pradenas as evidence of various sexual deviances throughout his life. 

While the community of Temuco is vocally supporting Barra and her family, Pradenas maintains his innocence and his family says that all the accusations are lies. His defense lawyer also rejects the claims that the video is a smoking gun for the prosecution’s case, pointing out that it is open to interpretation.

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