A Spanish regional court this morning confirmed a controversial ruling that cleared five men of gang-raping a young woman during Pamplona's San Fermin fesitval in the so-called "Wolf Pack" case, which caused protests across Spain.

The Navarra court confirmed a nine-year prison sentence for the men, who joked about the 2016 incident afterwards on a Whatsapp group called «The Wolf Pack», for the lesser crime of sexual assault.

The incident, which has attracted international attention in the wake of the #MeToo movement, occurred during the annual San Fermin bull-running festival in Pamplona, the capital of Navarra.

The ruling, which can now be appealed in Spain's Supreme Court, saw the men released on bail in June on a legal technicality which says that no one can be held for more than two years without a definitive sentence being handed down.

All five men, who include a former policeman and a former soldier, paid 6,000 euros ($6,800) in bail though their release led to further protests and concern across the political spectrum with pledges to revise the penal system's response to such charges.
The state prosecutor had originally asked for sentences of more than 20 years each for rape, which in Spain requires a plaintiff to present evidence of specific violence, such as being threatened with a knife or dealt physical blows.