Four Chilean men have been convicted of first-degree murder for beating a gay man to death and carving swastikas into his body. The crime shocked the conservative, mostly Roman Catholic country and led to the passage of the nation's first anti-discrimination law targeting hate crimes amid a gradually receding taboo on homosexuality.
Daniel Zamudio's mother Jacqueline Vera sobbed and her son's killers stood motionless and stared blankly at the floor as the judge read the guilty verdict.
Judge Juan Carlos Urrutia said the attackers Patricio Ahumada Garay, Alejandro Angulo Tapia, Raul Lopez Fuentes and Fabian Mora Mora -- who were between the ages of 19 and 25 at the time -- were guilty of a crime of "extreme cruelty" and "total disrespect for human life."
The judge said the convicted men burned Zamudio, a 24-year-old clothing store salesman, with cigarettes, beat him with glass bottles and broke his right leg with a heavy stone before they abandoned him in a park in the Chilean capital on March 3, 2012. He died of his injuries 25 days later and his four aggressors were arrested.
The sentence for the four men will be read on October 28. Prosecutors are asking for jail terms ranging from eight years to life in prison.
Rolando Jimenez, president of Chile’s Gay Liberation and Integration Movement, said outrage sparked by the case was what eventually led to an anti-discrimination law being passed in the country.
The law had been stuck in Congress for seven years after the initiative was stalled by conservative legislators, but President Sebastian Pinera put it on the fast track after Zamudio's murder.
The law adopted last year, dubbed the "Zamudio law," enables people to file anti-discrimination lawsuits and adds hate-crime sentences for violent crimes and condemns discrimination based on gender, race and religion, among other factors.