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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 30, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 13
Gay Chilean assault victim dies: Prosecutors to file murder charges
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Gay Chilean assault victim dies: Prosecutors to file murder charges

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Daniel Zamudio, a 24-year-old Gay man who was brutally beaten in Santiago, Chile, on March 3, died from his injuries on March 27.

Chilean prosecutors said they would seek murder charges against four neo-Nazis who are suspects in the case.

Zamudio had been in a medically induced coma since the assault. He had reportedly been beaten for an hour, sustaining severe head injuries and a broken right leg. Police said his attackers had carved swastikas into this chest.

In the hours after Zamudio's death, prosecutor Ernesto Vazquez requested that charges against the suspects be changed from attempted murder to premeditated murder.

According to Associated Press, Vazquez said the assault had clearly been motivated by homophobia. Hundreds of Chileans attended a vigil for Zamudio on the day after his death. Chile's interior minister, Rodrigo Hinzpeter, was booed and heckled when he came to offer condolences to the crowd gathered outside the hospital where Zamudio died.

He promised that the government would work hard to pass the anti-discrimination law, which was first proposed seven years ago.

'Since this aggression - Daniel's murder - happened, we have had a relative education on how we are going to construct a more harmonious society, with more love, where no one - no one - is discriminated against for any reason, because all Chileans have the same rights.

'There is no one in our society who can feel such murderous arrogance that they can attack and assault a fellow citizen for any reason,' he said.

In the wake of the attack on Zamudio, many LGBT rights activists criticized the Chilean government for tolerating neo-Nazi organizations.

Jaime Parada, spokesman the Movement for Homosexual Liberation and Integration, one of Chile's largest LGBT organizations, said the case highlighted the challenges still faced by Chile's LGBT community.

'We are fighting for an anti-discrimination law, for changes in language so people stop treating us like we are ill and make sure that the church does not treat us like sinners and so on,' Parada said.

Same-sex sexual activities have been legal in Chile since 1998, but there are currently no anti-discrimination protections for LGBT Chileans and no hate crimes laws. An anti-discrimination law was passed by Chile's senate last November, but it has not yet come up for a vote in the lower house.

Zamudio worked in a clothing store and hoped to study theater, his brother Diego said.

'He was very loving, an excellent person and that's why it's so hard to believe that they attacked him with such hate,' he told reporters.

The four suspects are all members of a group called 'Nazis del Centro' or 'Downtown Nazis.' According to Associated Press, they have previous convictions for attacks on Gay people.

The Washington Post reported that one of the suspects, Alfonso Lopez Fuentes, posted the statement 'I hate my awful life' on Facebook shortly before being arrested.

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