LA PAZ – A Bolivian Indian community once again applied the so-called principle of “native justice” by killing an accused murderer in the southwestern province of Potosi, where two weeks ago four policemen met the same fate, the press reported Wednesday.
The lynching was carried out on Tuesday in the community of Juruma, where the Indians lynched Santiago Flores, 51, after accusing him of two murders, two sexual assaults and various robberies, according to the daily La Prensa.
Flores was lynched some 300 kilometers from the Potosi village of Uncia, where the four policemen were tortured and murdered by another group of irate indigenous townspeople.
The provincial police chief, Col. Orlando Avila, said that the Indians took Flores from his home, whipped and beat him to death in front of a school and afterwards buried him in the Juruma cemetery.
Police could not recover the body because some 400 people who were on the scene prevented them from approaching the gravesite.
Community leaders in Uncia turned over the bodies of the four lynched police officers last week, but only after the cops’ loved ones signed a pledge not to seek criminal charges against the killers.
Even so, this week the families decided to initiate legal action against the Indian communities and said they were considering filing charges against government officials and police commanders for dereliction of duty.
The first three lynchings occurred between May 23 and May 25 and the fourth on June 1 or 2, when the government had already given all four men up for dead and was negotiating with the killers to recover the bodies.
The Indians of Uncia say lynchings are part of the indigenous justice system that was recognized in the constitution enacted last year at the urging of President Evo Morales, but the government rejects that argument.
Officials say the recognition of traditional justice is not a license for vigilantism. The government also points to Bolivia’s constitutional ban on capital punishment. EFE