By Rogério Tomaz Jr.
Originally published on the author’s website
A court in Argentina announced this Monday (6) the conviction of a group of young rugby players who punched and kicked 18-year-old student Fernando Báez Sosa to death in January 2020. Five of the attackers were given life imprisonment, while three others were sentenced to 15 years in prison.
The crime took place in the resort town of Villa Gesell, 300 kilometers from the capital Buenos Aires. The trial began in the first week of January and was covered extensively by the media.
The images of the crime shocked the country, as well as the details that were discovered afterwards. Fernando, who was studying law at the University of Buenos Aires (UBA) and was on vacation in Villa Gesell, fell out with rugby players inside a nightclub. Security guards kicked everyone out.
Minutes later, Fernando was walking along the sidewalk with friends when he was hit from behind by two of the assailants. Then the others joined in the beating and prevented the victim’s friends from helping him. Fernando was kicked in the head several times even after falling unconscious.
The case also had racist and xenophobic connotations. Fernando was the son of Paraguayan immigrants: Silvino Báez, a doorman at the building where they live in Buenos Aires, and Graciela Sosa, a caregiver for the elderly. During the trial, one of the witnesses said that the attackers shouted “shitty nigger” while beating the young man.
“It’s just the beginning. We are a little calmer, but we want life for everyone”, said Fernando’s father on his way out of court.
The following were sentenced to life imprisonment: Ciro Pertossi, Enzo Comelli, Matías Benicelli and Luciano Pertossi. As secondary protagonists of the crime, Ayrton Viollaz, Blas Cinalli and Lucas Pertossi were sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Case summary video:
Throughout the case, friends said that Fernando Báez Sosa was inspired by the lawyer Fernando Burlando, well known in the Argentine media for his participation in high-profile cases. On social networks, Burlando has a great presence, with more than 1 million followers on Instagram and more than 180 thousand on Twitter. The family approached the lawyer and he promptly accepted the case.
After the sentence, Burlando declared that he will also ask for life for the three young people sentenced to 15 years. The case is now going to the Court of Appeals, the second instance of the Argentine Justice, and later it may go to the Supreme Court of the country, which will be the last instance of the process.
One of those condemned to life imprisonment, Máximo Thomsen, 23, even fainted during the announcement of the sentence. Throughout the trial, however, the accused remained impassive and some even laughed in the sessions, in front of the victim’s family.
About the episode, Burlando spoke out. “In that state, Fernando was hit with blows and kicks,” observed the victim’s lawyer.
In the entire period since the crime, an apology has never been made, neither by the aggressors nor by their families. In the Argentine press, some commented that this defense strategy was supported by a feeling of guaranteed impunity, which ended up not being confirmed.
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