San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Suspected Gang Member Hacked to Death in Guatemala

GUATEMALA CITY (EFE) – A man suspected of membership in one of the youth gangs blamed for soaring crime in Guatemala died Monday at the hands of machete-wielding residents in a village west of this capital, authorities said.


The victim of the lynching, identified as Juan Tzep, 27, was accused by villagers in Pacamache of having carried out several robberies and of making death threats against residents, a police spokesman said.


“According to the report sent to us, (the residents) captured (Tzep) in the morning, they tried him and sentenced him to death for the crimes he had allegedly committed. Later they took him to the village cemetery and hacked him to death with machetes,” the spokesman said.


The U.N. mission that spent nearly nine years in Guatemala to verify compliance with the 1996 accord that ended the Central American nation’s 36-yearlong civil war issued a report in early 2005 saying that some 400 purported criminals have been lynched in the country since the end of the internal conflict.


In most cases, residents of settlements without police or courts spontaneously took the law into their own hands to deal with the alleged offenders, often accused murderers or rapists.


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