Spanish authorities have arrested three men over the murder of Samuel Luiz.

On Saturday (3 July), Luiz – a 24-year-old nursing student – was beaten to death outside a nightclub in the northern city of A Coruna, Galicia, in a suspected anti-gay hate crime. The attack began over a mobile phone, when the assailant and “two of his companions” believed Luiz was recording them.

The police described what followed as a “human pack kicking a youngster for more than 150 meters down a street,” the same distance between the nightclub and 2 Buenos Aired Avenue, which is where Luiz “fell to the ground as if he were dead”.

The same sources said the assailants “showed him no mercy” with “between six and 10 people still kicking him” when he was unconscious.

Police stated: “The man tried to escape on a number of occasions. He fell and got up as many as three times, he managed to cross the street, but they caught up with him again and carried on beating him. There were a lot of people, men and women, and they didn’t assault him but they did cheer on those who were.”

A friend of Luiz’s who was present when the assault took place told Spanish TV channel Telecinco that one of the attackers shouted at the victim: “Stop recording us if you don’t want me to kill you, you fucking fag.”

Another friend claimed in a tweet that he was killed “due to his sexual orientation”.

Luiz’s death sparked mass protests across the country, with activists joining together with signs and slogans protesting the mistreatment of Luiz and the LGBTQ+ community. One of the signs read, “Their love is worth more than your violence.”

Spain’s National Police said they arrested three people on suspicion of their involvement, according to EL PAÍS, two men and a woman aged between 20 and 25.

During the protest, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said he “trusts” that police will find those behind Luiz’s murder and “establish the facts,” adding: “We will not take a step backward in rights and liberties. Spain will not tolerate it. All of my support for his family and loved ones.”

Data, highlighted by Reuters, from the Interior Ministry, shows over 250 hate crimes related to sexual orientation or gender identity were reported in Spain in 2019.

Figures of reported hate and abuse crimes are expected to be higher. The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights has warned only a margin of these crimes are reported directly to the police.