May 19, 1999
Guatemalan villagers lynch five suspected highway bandits

                  GUATEMALA CITY (AP) -- Villagers in western Guatemala beat five
                  suspected highway bandits to death with sticks, burned and buried their
                  bodies, a state governor said Wednesday.

                  Accompanied by a small detachment of armed police and soldiers, Quiche
                  province Gov. Claudio Quinonez tried to stop the Tuesday lynching, but
                  angry villagers blocked roads leading into the town and refused to hand over
                  the bodies.

                  In a telephone interview, Quinonez said the detachment turned back
                  Tuesday because they feared for their lives.

                  The five men, who local residents accused of armed robbery of trucks on
                  roads in the area, were lynched in the hamlet of Chutzave, in a heavily Indian
                  area about 55 miles (90 kms) northeast of Guatemala City.

                  The hamlet does not have a police station or any permanent police presence.

                  Sixteen people have been lynched, usually by beating, hanging or stoning, in
                  Guatemala so far in 1999.

                  About 50 people were lynched in Guatemala in 1998.

                  In a January report, the U.N. Verification Mission in Guatemala said the
                  mob justice threatens the rule of law in Guatemala, sometimes targets people
                  known to be innocent of the alleged crimes and are often tolerated by local

                    Copyright 1999 The Associated Press.