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Mexican Town Burns Rape Suspect

September 26, 1999

SAN CRISTOBAL DE LAS CASAS, Mexico (AP) _ Hundreds of townsfolk in the southern state of Chiapas raided a jail, seized a man accused of raping a 2-year-old girl and burned him to death in the town plaza, a local official said Sunday.

Manuel Ruiz Lopez had been arrested by state police Saturday morning in Nuevo Pueblo Solistahuacan, about 25 miles northwest of San Cristobal de las Casas, the main city in Chiapas, City Council member Deonisio Sanchez said.

``The people were very angry. We could not talk with them and we could not intervene to keep them from taking justice into their own hands,″ Sanchez said by telephone. ``They took him to the basketball court in the plaza, hung him up, splashed him with gasoline and set him afire.″

Police rescued him with second-degree burns, but the mob broke into City Hall, captured him again and burned him to death, Sanchez said.

Sanchez said the 29-year-old suspect was from the neighboring municipality of Jitoitol.

The reported rape victim was under treatment at a nearby hospital.

The government’s Notimex news agency quoted state Attorney General Eduardo Montoya as saying officials were trying to determine those responsible for the killing Saturday so they could be prosecuted.

Over the past two years there have been repeated instances of people killing, or trying to kill, suspected robbers and rapists in Mexico.