LA PAZ – An enraged mob tortured and then burned alive a man accused of having committed a murder in a peasant community in western Bolivia, police reported Monday.
Lenard Olivera Cerruto, 35, died around midnight Sunday in the town of San Antonio, near Caranavi in La Paz province.
The mob said that they had applied community justice against the man, whom they accused of having robbed and then killed a vehicle driver identified as Joaquin Paco Lopez.
After capturing him, the crowd held the accused murderer hostage, tied him to the goal of a soccer field and then doused him with gasoline and set him on fire, without the few police officers stationed in the town being able to do anything to stop them.
Olivera was tortured and burned to death in the presence of his family members, witnesses told the media.
Lynchings of this sort are a very widespread practice in Bolivia.
Bolivian authorities and international organizations such as the United Nations have expressed their concern over these criminal acts, which usually are carried out under the supposed protection of community justice, a practice recognized under the country’s constitution but which in no way authorizes torture or the death penalty.
Between 10 and 20 known lynchings are carried out in Bolivia each year, according to human rights organizations.