BEIRUT, (Reuters) – Lebanese security forces arrested two people on Friday accused of taking part in the lynching of a murder suspect whose body was strung up with a butcher’s hook in a revenge attack that shocked the country.
The murder suspect and victim of the lynching, Mohammed Msallem, an Egyptian living in the southeastern mountain village of Ketermaya, was arrested last week on suspicion of killing an elderly couple and their two young granddaughters.
When police brought him to the scene of the crime a day after the murder, angry villagers overwhelmed the policemen, beat Msallem with sticks and stones and stabbed him.
To cheers and applause, they stripped him to his underwear and socks, paraded him through the street and hoisted him up on an electricity pole with a butcher’s hook.
Lebanese troops eventually arrived and took away his corpse. “The security forces raided (the village) and arrested two of the suspects,” a police statement said on Friday.
Witnesses said some angry villagers tried to block the streets and stop the security forces from leaving with the suspects.
The lynching of Msallem has shocked Lebanon and officials vowed to bring those responsible to justice.
Human Rights Watch called on Lebanese authorities to prosecute the perpetrators and said nothing justifies mobs taking the law into their own hands.
“The Lebanese authorities are facing a test: if they don’t reassert the rule of law by prosecuting those who killed a suspect who was entitled to the presumption of innocence, the law of the jungle will have won the day.”
Many of the villagers were unrepentant while others said authorities had to bear some responsibility for sending the suspect out in public with only a few policemen. Security sources said Msallem had confessed to the crime but his motive was not clear.