LA PAZ – A man who allegedly tried to murder a taxi driver so he could rob him in the Bolivian city of El Alto was lynched by local residents who came to help the supposed victim, police said.
The incident occurred on Tuesday in the neighborhood of Alto Lima, the destination to which the taxi driver took his presumed passenger, who then tried to stab him to death, the chief of the Special Anti-Crime Force in El Alto, Col. Felix Rocha, told reporters.
“(The driver) asked for the help of residents of the area, who immediately came at his call, (and they) captured and beat the suspect,” Rocha said.
The alleged attacker was taken to a La Paz hospital, where he died on Wednesday morning.
Lynchings of alleged criminals are a frequent occurrence in Bolivia and, as legal experts have warned, they show that a de facto death penalty imposed by angry mobs prevails in the country.
The people involved in the lynch mobs say that they are applying so-called “community (indigenous) justice,” which is recognized in the 2009 Constitution, although the document does not condone or set forth either capital punishment or physical punishment for convicted criminals.
Bolivian authorities and international organizations, such as the United Nations, have expressed their concern over these acts, which the police have been unable to fully suppress, given that many of them occur in rural areas where there are hardly few law enforcement personnel who are willing to confront the furious mobs.
According to human rights defense organizations, there are between 10 and 20 fatal lynchings each year in Bolivia and a greater number of attempts.