San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Alleged Kidnapper Lynched in Guatemala

GUATEMALA CITY – A man was lynched in an indigenous community in northern Guatemala while his wife was beaten by an enraged mob that accused them of stealing children and selling them, police said.

A spokesman for the National Civil Police in Petén province said the incident occurred the night of July 16 in the village of Sayaxche, some 290 kilometers north of Guatemala City.

“The man who was lynched was identified as Manuel Leopoldo Saguen, 40. He was beaten by the locals, who then poured gasoline over him and burned him alive in the central park” of the hamlet, the police spokesman said.

Saguen’s wife, identified as Luz Max Muz, was beaten by townspeople and then handed over to the authorities.

The couple was accused by Sayaxche residents of having stolen three children from the area to sell them to people engaged in illegal adoptions, the source said.

This year to date there have been 15 lynchings around the country, seven of them since July 1.

The Mutual Support Group (GAM) attributed the increase in lynchings to the wave of violent crime taking place in Guatemala.

“The number of these incidents reflects desperation in an atmosphere of collective psychosis that the citizenry is suffering, the result of the impotence on the part of security forces that leads people to have less and less confidence in the security system,” GAM said.

Cases of lynchings have increased since 1996, when the government and the old leftist guerrillas signed the peace accords that ended a bloody 36-year war.

Humanitarian organizations estimate that in the past 10 years there have been 650 lynchings, mostly in remote communities lacking the presence of security forces.


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