Claudio Cofré, the defense attorney in Chile’s Zamudio case, has withdrawn from court proceedings.
A judge has reassigned a public defender to represent the four men charged with brutally attacking Daniel Zamudio for being gay. Zamudio was found mutilated and unconscious in a park with swastikas carved into his body on 2 March 2012. He died in a hospital from injuries 25 days later.
According to the Zamudio family lawyer Jaime Silva, Cofré sent an email the day before the hearing, separating himself from the case and the defendants. Cofré gave no further indication as to why he withdrew from the case.
Zamudio’s gruesome beating and death received international attention. In response to Zamudio’s murder, human rights organizations including Amnesty International and the United Nations urged Chile to pass laws penalizing discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation.
International pressure prompted Chilean congress to pass the hate-crime legislation that had been pending review since 2005. President Sebastian Pinera fast-tracked the law after a 24-year-old gay Chilean was attacked and died.
Under the ‘Zamudio’ law violators who exclude or restrict any individuals on the basis of gender or sexual orientation can be fined up to 1,832,000 Chilean pesos ($3,779 €3072) or face time in prison.
The two suspects in custody for Zamudio’s murder Patricio Ahumada (25) and Alejandro Angulo (26) are facing charges of second degree murder. A third suspect, Fabian Mora (19) will join Ahumada and Angulo for sentencing at the 15 November hearing.
A fourth suspect Raul Lopez (25) is being held in custody without bail.
Chile’s leading sexual minority group Movilh has been active in ensuring the new hate crime law is upheld. The organization proved instrumental in filing the first case under the law, on behalf of two lesbians who were refused a hotel room in the country's capital city Santiago.
The hotel’s owner confirmed an anti-homosexual policy on premises, saying that other patrons had previously complained at the sight of same-sex couples in the establishment.
Movilh estimates that 17 people were killed in attacks motivated by gender expression or sexual orientation between 2002 and 2012.