Suspected Egyptian car thief lynched

Published Thursday, March 21, 2013

Egyptian villagers lynched a suspected car thief on Thursday, security sources said, in the latest in a spate of such vigilante killings at a time of growing lawlessness.

The official said the man hanged from a tree in the Ezbat al-Gindy had tried to steal a car, whose owner appealed to passersby for help.

The latest killings came as police ended a weeks-long strike, during which they complained they were ill-equipped to deal with violent criminals and protesters.

The lynching, in the Nile Delta village of Ezbat al-Gindy, came days after villagers in Mahallat al-Ziad beat two men Sunday accused of kidnapping a girl and strung them up in a public square.

The state-run newspaper Ahram reported on its website that the two men were dragged in the street after being caught "red-handed" trying to steal a rickshaw. It said they were beaten but alive before they were hung.

Witnesses claimed the men had kidnapped a girl inside the rickshaw, but that she escaped unharmed.

The bodies of those lynched are publicly displayed to serve as a warning to others, amid rising crime rates and a decreased police presence.

The spread of such vigilante justice "is one of the signs of the death of the state," Egyptian newspapers quoted Justice Minister Ahmed Mekki as saying after the Mahallat al-Ziad lynchings.

A police official said 17 such killings have occurred just in Sharqiya province, where Ezbat al-Gindy is located, since a 2011 uprising overthrew president Hosni Mubarak and took a severe toll on his security services.

The lynchings came ten days after the attorney general's office encouraged civilians to arrest lawbreakers and hand them over to police.

(AFP, AP)

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