Kabagambe arrived in Brazil in 2011, fleeing the armed conflict that has racked his native Democratic Republic of Congo.
Family members said the beating came after he insisted his manager pay him his overdue wages for two days of work at the beach-front bar where he was employed.
“He wanted his money and they didn’t want to pay him. That’s when the argument started. The manager grabbed a piece of wood to hit him. He (Kabagambe) grabbed a chair to defend himself,” the immigrant’s brother, Sammy Kabagambe, 28, told AFP.
GRAPHIC CCTV FOOTAGE
He said police had shown family members security camera footage that showed the manager calling in other assailants. At least three attackers beat Kabagambe with clubs and a baseball bat, at one point binding his hands and feet, relatives said.
Excerpts of the video published by newspaper O Globo showed a group of people trying to revive Kabagambe’s lifeless body after the beating.
The case has triggered outrage in Brazil.
Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes called the killing “unacceptable and revolting” Tuesday, and said he was confident police would bring the attackers to justice.
Legendary Brazilian singer Caetano Veloso said on Instagram the case had brought him to tears and decried the “pain of seeing a refugee from violence find such violence in Brazil.”
“This is not the Rio I love,” tweeted football star Gabigol of local club Flamengo.
Brazilian media reports said one person had confessed to taking part in the beating and turned himself in to the authorities Tuesday.
“They broke my son’s back and neck,” Kabagambe’s mother, Ivana Lay, told O Globo.
“I fled the Congo so we wouldn’t be killed, but they killed my son here the same way they do in my country, with punches and kicks, like an animal.”