Eight Argentine rugby players on trial for brutal murder

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Rugby ball (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)
Rugby ball (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

Eight Argentine rugby players went on trial Monday for allegedly beating to death a teenager outside a nightclub three years ago in a crime that shocked the nation.

The eight defendants, aged between 21 and 23, face life in prison if convicted.

They have been in pre-trial detention since the attack.

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Following an argument between two groups of people inside a nightclub in the popular seaside resort of Villa Gesell on January 18, 2020, the eight defendants allegedly attacked Fernando Baez, who was 18, after they had been ejected by door staff.

The players from a small provincial club in Zarate allegedly attacked Baez from behind and then beat him to death on the ground.

Images of the attack were caught on surveillance cameras, and by the telephone of one of the defendants.

They "continued to strike him even when he was practically unconscious, causing injuries that resulted in death," said prosecutor Juan Manuel Davilia at the court in Dolores, some 200 kilometers south of Buenos Aires.

"They took the decision to kill and they killed," said the Baez family's lawyer Fernando Burlando.

Some 150 witnesses have been called to trial, which is expected to last three weeks.

The attack struck a chord in the country and sparked protests in several cities.

The assailants were alleged by witnesses to have shouted racist insults at the victim as they struck him.

In a country marked by wide social inequality, rugby is traditionally played and watched by the wealthy.

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