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Mob Kills Brothers in No. Guatemala

November 17, 2000

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) _ A mob of villagers on Friday stoned to death two brothers they suspected in a stabbing, bringing to 23 the number of people killed in vigilante violence this year in Gautemala.

Several hundred people in San Gaspar Ixil cornered Enrique and Samuel Gomez after midnight and accused them of stabbing a local man to death late Thursday in the mountain hamlet, 200 miles northwest of Guatemala City.

Armando Carrera, a police spokesman for the area, said by telephone that the mob first staged a popular trial in which the brothers were allowed to plead for their lives.

``What followed is what has happened on many occasions _ the crowd picked up stones and began throwing them,″ Carrera said. ``Things in a town that seems so tranquil got very excited last night and that emotion led to death.″

Carrera said that when the Thursday night killing was discovered ``a large group of people then went looking for the Gomez brothers.″

According to the United Nations Mission to Guatemala, 44 acts of mob violence have claimed 23 victims, including 17 since the end of June.

The latest vigilante killings come less than a week after a Guatemala City-based human rights organization, the Mutual Support Group, blamed the surge in mob violence on the country’s ``increasingly militarized political and social environment.″

Emilia Garcia, the group’s assistant director, said Guatemala is still feeling the effects of a 36-year civil war that pitted leftist, mostly Indian guerrillas against government forces. The conflict left 200,000 Guatemalans dead _ most of them Indian peasants.

``Four decades of living in a society where rights are ignored has created the complete destruction of democratic society and constructed in its place a country dependent on violence,″ Garcia said Friday. ``We have come to live with and even expect violent lynchings here.″

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