A cable television installer who was lynched by an angry mob in San Marcos Tlacoyalco, Puebla, on Sunday was innocent, his family declared.
Manrique Mezquita Tadeo, who was beaten and set on fire, was so badly burned that his family could only identify him by his tattoos.
“It was shocking. He had no face, he was torn to pieces. His body was swollen and, burned; his guts were out. He already smelled bad,” his brother Lauro said after claiming the remains.
Mezquita, who lived in nearby Tehuacán, was working in San Marcos. When his shift was over he bought beer and went to a park to drink them with two other people.
What happened next is unclear, but witnesses say he got into a fight with men who accused him of attempting to kidnap a young girl from her home.
Police arrived and took Mezquita into custody where he was held for several hours. No report of an attempted kidnapping was ever filed.
But while Mezquita was in police custody, word that a kidnapper was in their midst spread quickly through the town, and by 9 p.m. residents rang the church bells, calling for residents to gather.
Anger quickly consumed the assembled crowd and armed with sticks and stones they stormed the police station, breaking down the doors and a portion of the wall with a police car.
Townspeople beat Mezquita mercilessly and prevented paramedics from attending to his injuries.
Onlookers watched the man die then dragged his body out in front of the station and set it on fire.
Mezquita, in his 30s and originally from Veracruz, leaves behind a young daughter, his four brothers and his mother, Ana María Tadeo, who is demanding justice. “My son was not a kidnapper. My son was a worker, a person who worked to support his family, and his life was taken from him,” she said.
“I want justice to be done and for those criminals who killed my son to know that he was no kidnapper, no criminal.”
Mezquita’s brother is leading the investigation into the death and says that video and photographic evidence clearly shows the faces of the principal aggressors.
Megacable, where Mezquita worked, denounced his killing. “We condemn the acts of barbarism and demand that the corresponding authorities clarify events, arrest those responsible and bring prompt justice,” the company said in a statement.
Puebla Governor Miguel Barbosa Huerta said Wednesday that the state Aattorney General’s Office has identified three of those allegedly responsible for the lynching and asserted that Mezquita was not a kidnapper. The state will take over policing in the town for the time being, he said.
“We will apply the law because doing justice by one’s own hand is not justice. People led by a state of emotion, prompted by people who act under some emotion or bad faith, can get involved in very serious events,” the governor said. “Today all the people who participated there are accomplices. In the coming days the case will be solved.”
According to a government official, there have been 108 lynching attempts in Puebla this year in which five people were killed.