LA PAZ – A 17-year-old boy in the central Bolivian province of Cochabamba died en route to the hospital after he was set on fire by a mob over an alleged attempted robbery, authorities said Wednesday.
The boy and his 18-year-old friend were seized last Friday night in the town of Eterazama by a crowd who came running after they heard shouts of alarm about an attempt to steal a motorcycle, the Bolivian press said.
Ignoring pleas from authorities to hand over the suspects, the town’s roughly 500 residents held the youths until Monday night, when they doused them with gasoline and set the younger one on fire.
The boy who was set ablaze died in the ambulance that carried him away from Eterazama, the administrator of Viedma hospital, Gaston Osorio, said.
Authorities were able to rescue the other youth alive.
The 17-year-old’s death brings to five the number of purported criminals killed by mobs in Bolivia in less than a month.
In each of the recent lynchings, participants claimed to be acting under a constitutional provision that recognizes traditional, communitarian justice.
The relevant provision, however, expressly bans the death penalty.
The office of Bolivia’s national ombud condemned the vigilante violence in Cochabamba as “the joint action of a multitude blinded by rage, mistrust and uncontrolled irrationality.”
“We have demanded an end to the impunity that surrounds these deeds,” the ombud’s office said in a statement. “There are now hundreds of cases that have brought no response from the justice system.” EFE