Chilean prosecuters are calling for the suspected neo-Nazis accused of attacking a young gay man to face murder charges after he died in hospital this week.
Daniel Zamudio, 24, was brutally attacked in Chile’s capital city, Santiago, on 3 March, but was pronounced dead on Tuesday (27 March) evening after fighting for his life in a coma for more than three weeks.
Hundreds attended a vigil for Zamudio in the city last night and the brutal assault has sparked public outrage and a debate on the country's current hate crime legislation.
Four men have been arrested and jailed on attempted murder charges, some of whom already have criminal records for attacks on gays.
However, prosecutor Ernesto Vazquez is calling for the charges to be upped to premeditated murder, carrying maximum life sentences if convicted.
He said the attack was clearly motivated by homophobia, the Associated Press reported.
Clothing store salesman Zamudio suffered severe head injuries and a broken right leg.
Photos released by his family showed the young man with cigarette burns all over his body, Nazi swastikas marked on his chest and part of his ear cut.
Campaigners claim torture should be added to the list of charges and the leader of Chilean gay rights group Movilh, Jaime Parada, said the case highlighted how gay men and women in Chile live in fear.
'We are fighting for an anti-discrimination law, for changes in language so people stop treating us like we are ill and make sure that the church does not treat us like sinners and so on,' he said, the BBC reported.
New anti-discrimination legislation is currently being considered by the Chilean congress.
Discussion on the anti-discrimination law started in congress in 2005 and was passed in November, 2011. The law included measures against discrimination of sexual orientation and gender identity.
However, on 4 January, the Constitutional Tribunal, headed by a group of senators from Chile’s conservative Independent Democratic Union, put forward an amendment revoking Article 2 of the law, which applies to sexual diversity.
Pressure has now been mounting for the government to reinstate the full law, following the attack and after the names of UDI senators who opposed the bill was leaked and circulated on social networking sites.