Speaking at an appeal hearing six months after being sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Fernando Báez Sosa, Máximo Thomsen (23) said Tuesday that he and his group of friends didn’t intend to kill him when they beat him to death in January 2020 in Villa Gesell.
Thomsen was the only one of the 8 amateur rugby players convicted who spoke before La Plata’s Criminal Cassation Court, the judiciary organ in charge of determining if their conviction will stand or not. Thomsen also questioned the legitimacy of the judicial process, in line with similar demands made by players’ defense attorneys.
On February 6, Thomsen, Ciro Pertossi (23), Matías Benicelli (23), Luciano Pertossi (21) and Enzo Comelli (23) were handed life sentences for homicide, doubly aggravated on the grounds of premeditation and the involvement of multiple people. Three other rugbiers, Ayrton Viollaz (24), Blas Cinalli (22) and Lucas Pertossi (24), were sentenced to 15 years in prison as “secondary participants.”
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Tuesday’s hearing took place after the prosecution and the defense appealed the February 6 verdict, seeking to overturn or modify the judges’ decision.
Báez Sosa’s family’s lawyers demanded the 5 life sentences be confirmed and that the other three, who were sentenced to 15 years, also receive life imprisonment.
Fernando Burlando, one of the victim’s family lawyers, said all eight convicted should be handed life sentences.
“I think the court will decide what is appropriate. We see some flaws in the reasoning stated in the sentence. The prosecutor’s office and the defense have highlighted those flaws,” Burlando said, adding that there is no expected date for the sentences to be confirmed.
Defense attorney Horacio Henricot demanded that the “aggravated homicide” charge for the 5 rugby players sentenced to life in prison should be changed to “homicide after a fight,” a charge that carries a sentence of two to six years in prison. Henricot also requested the remaining three be acquitted.
The attorney reiterated his demand that the indictment of the 8 friends, done hours after they were arrested, be declared illegal by the judiciary.
The victim’s mother, Graciela Sosa, demanded justice for her son during the hearing. Afterwards, his father Silvino Báez said the family was calm and confident about the sentences, adding that, from what he saw, the convicted young men didn’t seem to show regret.
“[Thomsen] is trying to get out of this, but they are in a very complicated place,” the father added.
All eight had been held in pre-trial detention since they killed Baez Sosa outside Le Brique nightclub in the seaside resort city of Villa Gesell. This week they left prison for the first time since they were sentenced to attend the hearing.
Under Argentine law, life imprisonment is equivalent to a 50 year prison sentence. In aggravated homicide cases, prisoners cannot be considered for early parole.
In the early hours of January 18, 2020, Báez Sosa and his friends bumped into the group of rugby players while partying in the Le Brique nightclub. What started out as an altercation escalated into a fight, and both groups were thrown out by the bouncers.
Outside the club, instead of calling it quits, the rugby players turned on Báez Sosa, knocking him to the floor and beating him savagely, according to witnesses and CCTV footage. Within minutes, he was dead.
During the trial that took place between January and February 2023, several witnesses testified that some of the 8 rugby players convicted of his murder called Báez Sosa racist slurs while they kicked him on the floor.
According to the judge’s ruling, his murder was carried out by taking advantage of the victim’s vulnerability – lying on the floor, with no possibility to defend himself – which justifies the accusation that malice aforethought was an aggravating factor in his killing.
–with information from Télam