A federal court in São Paulo federal court has reversed its own ruling that annulled the rape trial involving Thelma Fardin, the actor and her lawyer reported on Monday.
In 2018, Fardin accused her former colleague Juan Darthés of sexually assaulting her during a tour in Nicaragua in 2009, when she was a minor. She alleges that the ex-TV heaththrob raped her in a hotel room in May 2009 in Managua, when the cast was on tour for the popular TV series Patito Feo.
The court's latest decision, delivered on March 28, means that the trial will now continue on from where it was halted.
"The court's judges have corrected their decision and (...) the trial returns to the state it was in," said Fardin. "It's a big step and now we continue to work."
Back in February, the São Paulo court annulled the trial that had opened in November against Darthés, which was in final stages. The judges ruled it at the time that the case should not continue in federal court, after Darthés' lawyers had filed a motion asking that jurisdiction issues be clarified.
But Fardin's new defence team, led by Carla Junqueira, a Brazilian lawyer specialising in international law and gender, and Brazil's Public Ministry, which is acting as plaintiff, successfully argued that the trial should continue.
"Now, the case returns to the point where it was interrupted for the evidentiary investigation. Darthés and his witnesses still have to be heard," Junqueira told the AFP news agency.
Darthés, who holds Argentine citizenship, moved to Brazil, his birth country, after Fardin's complaint in 2018. He denies the accusations.
When the trial was annulled, Fardin and eight witnesses had already testified by videoconference.
It is as yet unknown when the process will resume, but Junqueira estimated it would be a matter of days.
According to the lawyer, the judges ruled in favour of their legal challenge, agreeing that the international nature of the case made it "of federal interest." This had already been decided by a judge of first instance in April 2021.
The case, in which the Brazilian, Argentine and Nicaraguan justice systems are collaborating, caused a huge commotion when it first broke, prompting a wave of other allegations, with some comparing it to the ‘#MeToo’ movement that began in the United States.
State prosecutors from all three countries agreed that there is enough evidence to prosecute Darthés for the alleged crimes.
Fardin visited Brazil earlier this month for the first time since the beginning of the trial, which is taking place in Brazil because the country's constitution does not allow the extradition of nationals.
She has said that the previous annulment left her feeling “re-victimised,” due to a “perverse institutional game, with a victim chasing her assailant around the world to get justice.”
Human rights NGO Amnesty International expressed its support for this latest ruling and asked the court to guarantee justice to the victims of gender-based violence.
“Today a historic step has been taken," said Mariela Belski, executive director of Amnesty International Argentina.
"For this reason, at Amnesty International we underline the importance that these types of cases do not go unpunished and that, with this, a dangerous message is sent to the girls and women of Argentina and Latin America, that they cannot trust the system of administration of justice.
"This would be extremely damaging both for Thelma and for all victims," she added.