October 17, 2013 | by Michael K. Lavers
Four men accused of killing gay Chilean man found guilty

Chile, vigil, Santiago, gay news, Washington Blade, Daniel Zamudio

Daniel Zamudio’s death in March 2012 sparked outrage across Chile and prompted lawmakers to pass a hate crimes and anti-discrimination bill. (Photos courtesy of Fundación Daniel Zamudio.)

A Chilean court on Thursday found four men accused of beating a gay man to death last year guilty.

Prosecutors contend Patricio Ahumada Garay and three other self-described neo-Nazis — Raúl López Fuentes, Alejandro Angulo Tapia and Fabián Mora Mora — attacked Daniel Zamudio in a park in Santiago, the country’s capital, on March 3, 2012, because he was gay. They allege the four men attacked Zamudio with bottles and other blunt objects before they cut off part of his ear, carved swastikas into his chest and burned other body parts with cigarettes.

Zamudio died in a Santiago hospital nearly a month after the attack.

The crime sparked widespread outage across Chile.

President Sebastián Piñera in July 2012 signed a hate crimes and anti-discrimination bill that includes both sexual orientation and gender identity and expression that had languished in the South American country’s Congress for seven years. Jaime Parada Hoyl of the Chilean LGBT advocacy group Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation (Movilh), who last November became the first openly gay political candidate elected in the South American country when he won a seat on the municipal council in the Providencia section of Santiago, discussed the impact that Zamudio’s death had in Chile and its lawmakers in particular during an interview with the Washington Blade last fall in D.C.

“This case was an earthquake of a loss of a human life, but it was a point of inflection,” Parada said.

Parada welcomed the verdict.

“We are satisfied with the judges’ decision,” he told the Blade in an e-mail from the Chilean capital on Thursday. “Today the four defendants were found guilty of aggravated murder, in spite of the defense’s efforts to prove the contrary.”

El Mercurio, a Chilean newspaper, reported the court will sentence Ahumada, López, Angulo and Mora on Oct. 28.

Ahumada, whom prosecutors say masterminded the attack against Zamudio, could face life in prison if convicted. López, who reportedly confessed to the crime, and Angulo and Mora each face a sentence of up to 20 years.

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

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