Authorities in northwestern Spain are asking for time to fully investigate the death of a 24-year-old man that sparked widespread condemnation after friends of the victim claim he was targeted and beaten to death for being gay.
LGBTQ activists have called for protests in dozens of cities across Spain later on Monday, and members of Spain’s left-wing cabinet have condemned the death of Samuel Luiz in the early hours of Saturday as a hate crime.
Police are reviewing surveillance camera footage and questioning more than a dozen suspects and witnesses who were outside a nightclub in the city of A Coruna at the time the crime took place, the government’s delegate in the northwestern Galicia region said Monday.
Luiz’s friends told Spain’s El Mundo newspaper that the suspects began attacking Luiz, who was on a video call with a friend at the time, because they believed he was trying to record them. The attackers used a derogatory word for homosexuals, according to the friends.
“We are at the early stages, only the investigation will tell us if whether it was a homophobic crime or not,” the delegate, Jose Minones, told reporters. He called for “prudence” in depicting the events.
No arrests have been made so far, Minones said.
The death comes amid a spike in attacks on LGBTQ people. Activist groups claim that official statistics capture only a fraction of the problem because many incidents are not reported.
Social Rights Minister Ione Belarra was criticized by many on social media for being too quick to condemn Luiz’s death as a “hate crime” when she sent a tweet on Sunday with her condolences to the victim’s relatives and friends.
“We want a country free of violence where everybody feels free to be who they are,” Belarra tweeted.