San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Guatemala mobs burn three suspected criminals

A group of villagers in the municipality of San Pedro Ayampuc, which borders the capital, beat up and set fire to three suspected criminals on Thursday, killing one and severely injuring two, volunteer fire and rescue squad spokesman Sergio Vásquez said. 

The first attack took place in Brisas de San Pedro Ayampuc, “where fire rescuers located two men who had been set on fire” and severely beaten, he said.

Cayetano Jiménez, 54, died at the scene, and Víctor Manuel Beteta, 49, survived with severe burns on most of his body. He was taken to San Juan de Dios Hospital in Guatemala City, Vásquez said.

A second attack occurred in the community of Durazno, near San Pedro Ayampuc, some 20 kilometers north of the capital, where another suspected thief was beaten and burned alive. He survived the attack with severe injuries. 

Police rescued the victim, Jorge Ramos, 20, whom local residents accused of assaulting and robbing them. Ramos also was transferred to San Juan de Dios Hospital, fireman Raúl Hernández said.

“Ramos had first, second and third degree burns on 90 percent of his body,” Hernández said. 

Public lynching has become a common crime in Guatemala, especially in indigenous Mayan communities, where residents take justice into their own hands because they either don’t trust local authorities, or police response is inadequate.

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