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Portuguese police arrest suspect in killing of Black man in Azores

By Catarina Demony

LISBON (Reuters) - Portuguese police said on Wednesday they have arrested a man suspected of killing a Cape Verde national on an island in the Azores archipelago, an attack rights groups have described as racially motivated.

Ademir Araujo Moreno, a 49-year-old Black man, was beaten up on Sunday outside a nightclub on the island of Faial and ended up dying from his injuries in hospital the following day.

Portugal's criminal police, PJ, said the crime happened amid a violent argument involving several people. The 23-year-old alleged attacker, who worked at the nightclub, allegedly knocked out the victim with a punch, the PJ added.

The SOS Racismo rights group said in a statement Araujo was brutally beaten up, while activists who organised a vigil for Moreno in Faial cited eyewitnesses as saying the beating was preceded by racist insults.

Racist slurs were also used on previous nights by people close to the attacker and directed at other members of the island's African community, the group in Faial said.

Various organisations have expressed concerns about racist violence in Portugal. Hate crimes increased by 38% last year from 2022, according to police data.

At least 14 people have been killed in racist attacks, including by police officers, since the 1990s, said Portuguese anti-racism platform Kilombo. In 2020, Black actor Bruno Cande was shot dead by a white man near Lisbon.

Anti-racism activists will on Thursday gather at Campo das Cebolas, a Lisbon square where a long-delayed slavery memorial is meant to be built, to pay tribute to victims of racist violence.

(Reporting by Catarina Demony; Additional reporting by Patricia Rua; Editing by Andrei Khalip and Sharon Singleton)