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Gay Latvian man dies after 'homophobic attack', campaigners say

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By Euronews  with AFP
File photo of gay pride flag
File photo of gay pride flag   -   Copyright  'lafur Steinar Rye Gestsson/Ritzau Scanpix via AP

A gay Latvian man died on Wednesday after suffering severe burns in what LGBT associations denounced as a homophobic attack.

Normunds Kindzulis was a 29-year-old medical assistant who suffered burns on 85% of his body on April 23. His clothes had been covered with gasoline and burned, AFP reported.

He had previously received homophobic threats and had moved from Riga to Tukums, a quiet town 70 kilometres west of the capital, according to local press reports.

The local police did not rule out the possibility of suicide because of the threats he received.

"Bringing someone to the brink of suicide is also a crime," Latvian police officer Andrejs Grishins told reporters on Thursday.

Local police had originally said they would not open an investigation but after the death of Kindzulis they will have to. Some campaigners denounced what they said was "police inaction".

Latvia's President Egils Levits tweeted: "There is no place for hatred in Latvia," adding that if it was confirmed to be a homophobic attack, the criminal would be more guilty.

Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš said the "heinous crime" should be "thoroughly investigated."

Kindzulis' colleague wrote on Facebook, in a post shared by an LGBT association, that Kindzulis had "always been responsive and helpful" and "worked hard" with a strong knowledge of medicine.

Artis Jaunklavins, a colleague and roommate who is still hospitalised, told the Delfi news website that he had discovered him "burning like a torch" outside their home.

"I tried to put out the flames, I carried him and put him in the bathtub, but the burns were too severe, his toasted clothes embedded in the skin," he added.

On social media Jaunklavins reposted information that Kindzulis had been attacked upon returning home.