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Mob Tortures, Kills Murder Suspect in Ecuador

July 31, 1996

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) _ The tortured body of a murder suspect kidnapped from a hospital bed by an angry mob has been found along a rural highway.

Police said Tuesday that the 22-year-old man was taken from a hospital in Santo Domingo de los Colorados, 45 miles west of Quito, on Friday after a mob of about 50 people overpowered two police officers assigned to guard him.

The body of Francisco Mendez Cedeno was found Sunday, police said. He was accused of killing a young man on July 21 and was being treated for injuries he suffered when he crashed a car while fleeing the crime.

Mendez’s killing is the third incident of vigilante justice in Ecuador in less than two weeks.

A week ago two women accused of being witches were stripped to their underwear and whipped in public in a remote Andean village near the town of Ambato, about 75 miles south of Quito.

On July 17, a mob lynched and burned five men accused of murder in the nearby town of Mana after intercepting a police car and pulling the men from the vehicle.

In the latest incident, the leaders of the mob that took Mendez said they were going to interrogate him and torture him if necessary to find out who his accomplices were, police said.

His body showed signs of having been tortured with a knife, police said.

Residents of traditional Ecuadorean communities have long been accustomed to administering their own punishment to local criminals.

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