Fifty children witnessed the horror when a young man between 18 and 25 years old accused of murdering a man was hanged by his feet in a school in Guatemala by an angry mob. The event took place this Friday in the community of Guaisná, in the municipality of San Mateo Ixtatán in the department of Huehuetenango, bordering Mexico, located 320 kilometers from Guatemala City.

Once again and as happens on numerous occasions in this Central American country, neighbors took justice into their own hands as if they were going back to Fuenteovejuna in 1476 and lynched a young man who was not given the slightest opportunity to defend himself in court before the serious accusation of murder.

After restraining him, several people took him to the community school and, without caring about the presence of the children, they hung him by his feet on a beam located outside one of the classrooms. He remained like this for about two and a half hours, during which a group of women hit the young man with sticks and other blunt objects, instead of waiting for the police to arrest him and the Prosecutor’s Office to investigate the alleged crime committed in the municipality.

According to the newspaper Prensa Libre, fifty minors surrounded the subject forming a circle, while dozens of neighbors also participated in the tumult, witnessing the violent act without doing absolutely anything to prevent it.

After untying him from the beam, the mob took the accused to the local cemetery, as reflected in several videos published on social networks. In the images, a man can be seen setting the young man on fire, after several attempts to light the matches. It is likely that they also doused him with gasoline or some type of fuel to burn him alive to death.

According to the aforementioned newspaper, neighbors assured that help was requested from the municipal police, although the agents justified their absence due to the lack of a vehicle and fuel, which is why they arrived late to save the life of the young man, who was left lying inert and calcined on the ground.

This is the first fatal lynching to take place in 2024 in Guatemala, a country where these types of practices are repeated over time, supplanting justice in the belief that it does not work nor do local authorities resolve the endemic violence, which caused 4,353 deaths associated with criminal acts under investigation, according to the National Institute of Forensic Sciences.

The mobs also know that they never act against them, despite the fact that article 39 of the Guatemalan Penal Code considers lynchings a mob crime. Specifically, it establishes that, if the purpose of the meeting was to commit certain crimes, all those who have materially participated in its execution will be liable as perpetrators, as well as those who, without having had material participation, assumed the role of directors.

In a second provision it indicates that, if the purpose of the meeting was not to commit crimes and these were later committed at the impulse of the crowd in tumult, all those who had materially participated in the execution will be liable as accomplices and, as perpetrators, those who had the character of instigators, whether or not they had material participation in the execution of the criminal acts.

In practice, it would translate into applying article 394 of the Penal Code, which establishes a prison sentence of one to four years for anyone who publicly instigates the commission of a specific crime. According to data from the NGO Mutual Support Group, between January 2008 and May 2020 alone, mobs left 361 people murdered and 1,396 injured in Guatemala, after 1,757 lynchings were recorded.

It so happens that in San Mateo Ixtatán, three men were already lynched and burned to death by a mob in August 2014, accused of belonging to a gang of kidnappers and committing acts of sexual rape. After being arrested by the population, they were lynched and murdered two days later, although their relatives assured that the victims were innocent and that the community acted without having evidence of the alleged crimes.

The last lynching in Guatemala dated back to September 2022, when two young people aged 25 and 23 were beaten and burned alive, after being accused of the murder of a 47-year-old woman who was selling clothes and who was attacked with bullets inside her shop. store, located in a shopping center in Sacapulas, in the department of Quiché, almost 200 kilometers from the capital.

“Are you determined to die?” a man asked one of the young men with a bloody face and tied with ropes from the neck. Minutes later, he was doused with gasoline along with another young man and both burned to death. In that case, a patrol of the National Civil Police intercepted them on the highway after supposedly committing the crime and took them back to the center of Sacapulas to bring them to justice, after both were identified after viewing the security cameras. .

However, hundreds of people prevented them from doing so, as they pulled the two young men out of the patrol car, stretched them by their legs, and threw them to the ground where they beat them without the police officers doing anything to prevent it. Later, they tied them with ropes all over their bodies and paraded them through the town.

In August 2023, a similar event occurred between the Canich village and the center of the Colotenango municipality, 300 kilometers from the country’s capital. The police had captured three men after several residents handed them over after accusing them of the kidnapping and murder of an 11-year-old boy.

The agents only had to transfer them to the corresponding court, so that it could decide whether to order their entry into preventive detention, as established by ordinary law. However, at night a mob of 6,000 people decided that the three captured were not going to face justice, but rather their justice, so, after beating them, they doused them with gasoline and burned them alive until they burned to death, remaining unrecognizable. .

The most relevant case occurred in 2015 when a 15-year-old teenager was murdered in the middle of the street in Río Bravo, in Suchitepéquez, at the hands of 1,000 people who participated in the fatal attack. On that occasion, they took her to the center of her town holding her hair and there they threw stones at her, beat her and ended up burning her alive in front of everyone and without any police officer coming to her aid.

To commit this crime, they accused her of having participated, along with two other young people, in the murder of a motorcycle taxi driver, although no one presented evidence against her, not even a complaint to the police. This crime was recorded on video and posted on the Internet, where the moment in which they doused her with gasoline and she died under the flames could be seen without any type of censorship, just as happened again this Friday due to the state’s apathy.