The eight defendants in court in Dolores, Argentina
Photo: JUAN MABROMATA / AFP
Five Argentinian rugby players, aged between 21 and 23, have been sentenced to life in prison for the killing of an 18-year-old.
They were found guilty by a court in Dolores on Monday of beating the son of Paraguayan immigrants to death after an argument outside a club two years ago.
Three other defendants were sentenced to 15 years in prison.
The case had sparked protests and heated discussions about racism and classism in Argentina.
The eight teammates from an amateur rugby team clashed in January 2020 in the seaside resort of Villa Gesell on Argentina's Atlantic coast at night in a disco with 18-year-old law student Fernando Báez Sosa and his friends.
As the British newspaper »Guardian« reports, both groups were thrown out of the club because of their aggressive behavior.
Rugby in Argentina as a white and rich sport
They then ambushed Fernando Báez Sosa, isolated him from his friends and beat and kicked him until he died of his injuries.
Witnesses heard the rugby players racially disparaging Báez Sosa at the attack.
After the crime, the rugby players went to McDonalds for lunch.
Rugby is a fringe sport in Argentina, mostly played and watched by white and wealthy sections of the population.
Racist motive not part of the charge
While prosecutors did not include racial hatred in the charges, family members, activists and government officials consider it a key factor in the attack, the Guardian reports.
"The case of Fernando Báez Sosa is a turning point in Argentina," said Alejandro Mamani, a lawyer and member of Identidad Marrón, an anti-racist group.
"My son was beaten for racist reasons," Fernando's father, Silvino Báez, wrote about a year after the crime.
'It was hate.
Maybe because they're blonde and Fernando had dark skin, they felt superior.'
Báez Sosa's parents, who are Paraguayans and work as bricklayers and geriatric nurses in Argentina, attended the reading of the sentence in the town of Dolores, south of Buenos Aires.
Life imprisonment is a just punishment for the perpetrators, said the mother of the dead man, Graciela Sosa, before the verdict was announced.
The accused, who have been in custody since 2020, had regretted the crime in court and protested that they had no intention of murder.
Defendant Máximo Thomsen, believed to be the leader of the group, fainted upon hearing the verdict.
The lawyer for Báez Sosa's family, Fernando Burlando, announced that he would appeal - with the aim of putting the three other accused behind bars for life.