“The Wanninkhof-Carabantes case”: To see or not to see the documentary that causes an impact on Netflix

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It is not so often that two streaming networks so obviously dispute a case to produce an original audiovisual product and outside the entertainment business. This has happened and has as protagonists – a leader in this format of content transmission – and to HBO Max, its newest competitor. What motivated this? We tell you about it here.

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The crime of a young Spanish woman (Rocío Wanninkhof) in 1999 motivates the attention of Spanish public opinion to focus its attention for months on the ex-partner of her mother (Dolores Vásquez), who turns out – with no greater contribution than a group of evidence — paying more than 500 days in prison. The revelation of another murder –also against a girl (Sonia Carabantes,) but in 2003– throws up a lurid truth: the convicted woman was always innocent.

From its conception, one might think that we are facing one more documentary about errors in the justice system. Nothing could be further from the truth. In an hour and a half, viewers will see a series of themes that will parade in an agile and raw way, undressing a society that perhaps has not changed much almost two decades later.

Rocío Wanninkhof's room.
Rocío Wanninkhof’s room.

The first of the edges to be analyzed in “The Wanninkhof-Carabantes case” is linked to the family and intimate sphere of the victims. We have before us a large file of statements where Rocío Wanninkhof’s mother (Alicia Hornos) points out her ex-partner with absolute coldness. Sheltering herself in a supposed “thirst for revenge” she asks for the maximum penalty against her. And on the other side, we have the relatives of Vásquez, who – with full full rights – ask that the presumption of innocence be respected and not punished without strong evidence.

It should be mentioned that, and this is notably recounted in the documentary by Tània Balló, about the accused (and later sentenced) there was never solid evidence (DNA confirmations in the victim’s remains or objects found at the crime scene). What they did have were vague testimonies, and many (her domestic employee, a foreigner who could not pronounce Spanish correctly, said she had seen her hit a knife on a photo). Something that we can already mention as a second edge also fell on her: prejudices about lesbians. In the documentary it is mentioned as “lesbophobia” outright.

Due to her apparently cold and calculating appearance, because she was a woman of few words, but above all because of her sexual orientation, Dolores Vásquez was singled out more than once in the media as “a person who seems to be the culprit.” It is by no means the first similar case, neither in Spain nor in Peru. Although the documentary shows a very particular case of stereotypes and prejudices taken to the limit.

There is no need to refer to the second case. In 2003, Sonia Carabantes, another young Spanish woman whose heinous crime motivated the general solidarity of Coín, a small town located in Malaga, was found dead. Unlike the first case, here the investigation and judicial procedure was carried out in a much more professional way (although the characteristics were different, of course). Then there would be external factors – the murderer, a British man with a serious history of violence against women, identified as Tony King – was betrayed by his ex-wife, horrified to find out who he ever swore ‘eternal love’ to. Furthermore, a foreign artist would quickly identify him as the man who tried to abuse her a few decades ago.

Dolores Vasquez.
Dolores Vasquez.

Although perhaps a little more influence could be had on the bridge that joins both cases, “The Wanninkhof-Carabantes case” allows us to see how the professional work and the correct functioning of the institutions led to the contrasting of the traces found in the second crime scene with the first. As one of the voices in the documentary says, from here the outcome comes quickly

Although the pain in the families of both victims of Tony King is immeasurable, this documentary is to fundamentally remind us who Dolores Vásquez was. In a part of the video it is said that “the press has given more covers to his sentence as guilty than to his acquittal of the case” and that is real. Named for years as a murderer, insulted by strangers on the street, and mistreated on ‘reality shows’, she will never be the same. This alone explains why Netflix and HBO Max (who have secured their exclusive testimonial for an upcoming documentary) have paid so much attention to it.

Tony King.
Tony King.

THE TOKEN:

Synopsis: In 1999, someone took Rocío Wanninkhof’s life. They suspect his mother’s ex-partner, Dolores Vázquez. Could it have been her? A second victim will reveal the truth.

Platform: Netflix.

Duration: 1 hour and 28 minutes

Classification: General public.

Rating: ★★★★

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