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Verdict expected in murder trial of Argentina rugby players

#Verdict #expected #murder #trial #Argentina #rugby #players

Eight young rugby players risk life imprisonment if convicted by a court in Argentina Monday of beating a teenager to death outside a disco three years ago in an alleged racially-motivated crime.

A court in Dolores is set to hand down its verdict Monday in the trial of the eight, now aged between 21 and 23, for a crime that shocked the nation and turned the spotlight on class and race discrimination in Argentina.

The young men, teammates at a small, provincial rugby club, stand accused of pummeling law student Fernando Baez Sosa, 18, to death in the popular seaside resort of Villa Gesell on January 18, 2020.

After a fight broke out in a nightclub, those involved were evicted but their quarrel continued in the street.

Baez became isolated from his friends and was surrounded by eight attackers who beat him so severely that he died of his injuries.

According to witnesses, his attackers called Baez — whose parents, a bricklayer and a caregiver, are Paraguayan immigrants — a “shitty black.”

In a country where the majority of the population is descended from white Europeans, mostly from Spain, Italy or Germany, the term “black” is used by some to describe Indigenous people or migrants from neighboring countries widely viewed as inferior.

Rugby is a minority sport in Argentina, traditionally played and watched by a wealthy elite.

The killing sparked protests in several cities.

The trial of the eight accused opened in Dolores, 220 kilometers (136 miles) south of Buenos Aires, last month for aggravated, premeditated murder.

In the dock are Maximo Thomsen, Matias Benicelli, Blas Cinalli, Enzo Comelli and Ayrton Viollaz, brothers Ciro and Luciano Pertossi and Lucas Pertossi, their cousin.

Prosecutors are seeking the maximum penalty: life imprisonment.

Defense lawyers argue that premeditation has not been proved in the crime, and have asked the court to impose a lighter sentence for a lesser crime.

The defendants, in pre-trial detention since 2020, have expressed remorse during the hearings and insisted they had no intention of killing Baez. Some have denied ever hitting him.

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#Verdict #expected #murder #trial #Argentina #rugby #players

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