Spanish police have arrested three people over the killing of a male nursing assistant in a suspected homophobic attack that prompted protests across the country.
The investigation into the death of Samuel Luiz, 24, is ongoing and no motive has been ruled out – including the possibility that it was a homophobic crime – according to Jose Minones, the government’s chief delegate to northwest Spain where Luiz was beaten to death on Saturday.
“A judge will decide if this was a hate crime,” Minones told Spain’s SER radio in an interview on Wednesday.
The killing of Luiz – who was beaten to death outside a nightclub in the northwest city of A Coruna – prompted protests in Madrid, Barcelona, A Coruna and numerous other Spanish cities this week, drawing thousands who denounced attacks on the LBGTQ community.
The two men and one woman who are under arrest, ages 20 to 25, were suspected of direct participation in the attack, according to Minones.
A witness identified by her first name Lina – who claimed to be a friend of Luiz – told Spanish media that a homophobic slur was used at the outset of the attack.
Police are not ruling out the possibility of more arrests and are basing their investigation on statements from 15 people, mobile phone video recorded at the scene, as well as video from security cameras in the area operated by municipal police and local businesses, Minones said.
Luiz, who worked at a senior citizens home, was beaten to death by people who punched and kicked him, a spokeswoman in Minones’ office told CNN.
The incident began outside a nightclub on the Riazor beach in A Coruna, according to the spokeswoman.
Luiz was then able to move several hundred feet – from the beach up to street level and across the street – where he was then fatally attacked, she added.
Ambulance crew attempted to revive Luiz at the scene and then took him to hospital where he later died, the spokeswoman added.