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Mexican villagers stone ‘witch’ to death • Tuesday April 15, 2003

AP, Apr. 14, 2003

SAN CRISTOBAL DE LAS CASAS, Mexico (AP) — An angry crowd stoned to death an Indian man accused of practicing witchcraft in a southern Mexico town with a long tradition of religious violence.

The man, Domingo Shilon Shilon, was also hacked with machetes Sunday by the crowd in San Juan Chamula, a majority Catholic township on the outskirts of the colonial city of San Cristobal, 460 miles (735 kms) southeast of Mexico City.

Shilon, 50, was caught by the crowd in a neighborhood known as Rancho Narvaez, state police said. After killing him, the crowd partially burned his body.

Shilon, like most of his alleged attackers, was a Tzotzil Indian, a branch of the Maya. The Chiapas state Justice Department said an investigation was continuing into the killing, but it is often difficult to prosecute such cases, given that witnesses are frequently unwilling to testify.

Since the 1960s, San Juan Chamula has seen numerous killings and confrontations as “traditional” Catholics — who mix pre-Hispanic Indian rites with Roman liturgy — battle to expel evangelical Protestants.

Witchcraft is often blamed for outbreaks of illness or the deaths of children in the impoverished Indian community, where many practice faith healing and some residents — mainly men — engage in so-called “white” magic.

In 1996, residents of another San Juan Chamula neighborhood beat and then hanged a man suspected of causing ailments and misfortune through witchcraft.

The villagers killed the man after they went to a cave he frequented and found bottles dressed in the local Indian garb, objects he allegedly used in casting spells on people.

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