Mob of 2,000 lynch rape suspect

THE FOURTH village lynching in two years took place in Chiapas, southern Mexico, at the weekend when a mob of nearly 2,000 peasants burnt a suspected rapist alive at the second attempt.

Led by the father and uncles of two-year-old Tila Suarez, who was brutally violated on Friday and now is recuperating from severe internal injuries in a hospital in distant Tuxtla-Gutierrez, the crowd carried Manuel Ruiz Lopez, aged 29, to the town square of Pueblo Nuevo Solisthahuacan, where they doused him with petrol and set him alight.

Police with clubs fought off the crowd and managed to extract Mr Ruiz, roll him on the ground and extinguish the flames before taking the suspected rapist, now covered with second-degree burns, back to the city jail for his protection.

But within the hour, the angry mob approached the prison again and overpowered all 20 of the police officers guarding the entrance. By threatening the guards who protected the injured prisoner and vowing to torch the Municipal Hall to the ground if anyone resisted them, a handful of men surged past the security officers and into Mr Ruiz's cell.

According to the Chiapas state prosecutor, Eduardo Montaya, Mr Ruiz was burnt alive on Saturday in the town square. At 9pm, after the frenzy had subsided, Mr Ruiz's body was carried from the scene by state officials and insurance assessors. A police officer was posted to guard against further unrest.

According to sources in Pueblo Nuevo Solisthahuacan, there is a second rape suspect in the case. The police are trying to take him in before the mob captures him.

In 1997, in the nearby village of Motozintla, two alleged rapists were lynched. More recently, in Sesecapa, a youth accused of assault and robbery was beaten by a crowd, set ablaze and burnt alive.