Patricio Ahumada Garay, one of the four Chilean men recently convicted in the homophobic murder of Daniel Zamudio, has been on a partial hunger strike for at least seven days.
Ahumada’s hunger strike began on October 18th, which was one day after he and his cohorts were found guilty of the 2012 murder of Zamudio. At first he refused to ingest any liquids though on Tuesday he changed his fast to eat only solids.
He has reportedly lost five kilos (roughly eleven pounds) though a medical report from prison doctors said that his vital signs are stable.
In a pair of letters to prison authorities, Ahumada claimed that his legal rights were “violated” and that he protested the ruling handed down against him.
During the Zamudio murder trial, prosecutors argued that the gang of self-described neo-Nazis attacked the 24-year-old in a Santiago park due to his homosexuality. The defendants, who were between the ages of 19 and 25 at the time, burnt Zamudio with cigarettes, beat him with beer bottles and broke one of his legs. Defendant Fabian Mora said at the witness stand that Ahumada used a broken liquor bottle to draw a swastika on Zamudio's unconscious body and then urinated on him.
Zamudio died in hospital on March 28, 2012, three weeks after he was assaulted and left for dead.
A judge is expected to hand down prison sentences to Zamudio’s killers on this Monday. Ahumada, who was identified as the ringleader and did not testify during the trial, could spend the rest of his life behind bars.
For Rolando Jiménez, president of Chile’s Gay Liberation and Integration Movement, Hamada’s hunger strike is reprehensible and the actions of a coward:
Jiménez emphasized that (the hunger strike) “is a desperate measure ahead of a sentence that we hope is the harshest possible. Ahumada and the three men convicted for the premeditated homicide of Daniel Zamudio received all guarantees under the penal system…This is the flailing of a drowning man that will have no effect on the sentences to be decided by the court. It’s the desperation of a coward,” said the head of the organization representing sexual minorities.Zamudio’s death sparked widespread outrage across Chile and led to the signing of a landmark anti-discrimination law that was first proposed in 2005. Though the “Zamudio law” is in the books, members of the LGBT community have been tee targets of violence. This past Tuesday, for instance, a transsexual sex worker in Valparaiso was stabbed and killed.
Despite opposition by some conservative politicians and Catholic Church officials, Latin American countries in the past few years have gradually granted more rights to gay individuals. Yesterday a Colombian court tossed out a lawsuit from the country’s Attorney General seeking to stop the country’s first legal same-sex marriages. Meanwhile, Uruguay’s defense minister admitted this week that in 2011 the military reinstated a gay army general who was dishonorably discharged decades ago due to his sexual orientation.
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Online Sources – Milenio; El Tiempo; Publimetro; La Nacion; BBC News; Al Jazeera America