Demonstration demanding justice for the crime of Fernando Báez Sosa in February 2020 in Buenos Aires.EFE
Three years ago, 18-year-old Fernando Báez Sosa, who was beaten to death on the street, shook Argentina. This Monday, the eight defendants in the crime sat on the bench for the first time, charged with double-count manslaughter, treason and involvement of two or more people, charges that carry life imprisonment under Argentine law.
The accused, aged between 21 and 23, are former players of the Náutico Arsenal Zárate rugby club. The prosecution also accuses them of slightly injuring friends of Báez Sosa, who were with him at dawn on January 18, 2020 and tried to defend him.
“I don’t understand and I will never accept how boys Fer’s age did this to him. They attacked him from behind, they threw him on the ground, they hit his head…” said the victim’s mother, Graciela Sosa, the judges of the Dolores Criminal Court No. 1. “My son needs justice so he can rest and we can have a little bit of peace in our souls,” he told the media just before entering the court.
Fernando Báez Sosa died after being beaten in the center of Villa Gesell, a town 400 kilometers south of Buenos Aires that is one of the youth’s favorites in the southern summer. The autopsy revealed that he died of cardiac arrest caused by “multiple head injuries that caused massive intracranial hemorrhage”.
According to the indictment, the eight defendants “agreed” to kill Báez Sosa. They attacked him from behind to throw him to the ground, where they continued to punch and kick him “even when he was practically unconscious.” Prosecutors allege that five of the defendants (Máximo Thomsen, Ciro Pertossi, Enzo Comelli, Matías Benicelli and Blas Cinelli) attacked Báez Sosa and three others (Ayrton Viollaz, Lucas Pertossi and Luciano Pertossi) prevented his friends from defending him.
The beatings occurred on Villa Gesell’s main street and were recorded on dozens of home videos and security cameras owned by businesses in the area. For weeks, Argentines watched footage of Báez Sosa being beaten unresponsive to the ground and the attackers wiping blood from their hands as they walked past the police. Days later, the messages the rugby players exchanged on WhatsApp were leaked to the press, with alibis being rehearsed to avoid jail. His defense today requested the annulment of the trial, which was denied.
“My Lords, here you hear the story of a father who has lost everything: he has lost happiness, the desire to live, to fight and he has lost the best of everything, which is the embrace of his son,” said Silvino Báez at the beginning of his statement. When he examined his son’s body, he found him with “a bloated head.” “He was dripping blood everywhere. I couldn’t touch it,” he explained. His statement brought tears to some in attendance.
Báez Sosa’s crime has sparked numerous demonstrations of dissent across the country and sparked intense debate about violence in sport and Argentina’s youth.
The trial continues this Tuesday with the testimony of the friends who accompanied Fernando on the night of the crime and were beaten by the accused. Judges will also hear testimony from Julieta, the victim’s partner at the time.
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