LA PAZ – A man died – evidently of hypothermia – in the south-central Bolivian province of Chuquisaca after local villagers tied him to a tree after allegedly surprising him while he was committing a robbery, a provincial official said on Tuesday.
The incident took place on Sunday near Culpina, where the victim was seized by local residents who found him inside a house with two other accomplices, who managed to escape, according to the provincial prosecutor, Roberto Ramirez, as reported by Erbol radio.
The presumed criminal was tied to a tree and beaten by the enraged villagers, who then left him tied up at the site.
Some hours later, around midnight, police managed to recover the lifeless body of the man.
Lynchings of presumed criminals occur in Bolivia rather frequently and, as judicial experts have warned, demonstrate that a de facto death penalty prevails in the country via mob justice.
Local residents argue that they are applying so-called indigenous community justice, which is recognized in the Constitution implemented in 2009 but which does not condone the death penalty or even physical punishment.
Bolivian authorities and international entities, including the United Nations, have expressed their concern about acts of this kind, which police have been unable to stop, given that many rural areas do not have enough officers to be able to effectively confront furious mobs of local citizens.
According to human rights defense organizations, there are between 10 and 20 lynchings each year and a larger number of lynching attempts.