Madagascar orders boy's body exhumed, pursues lynching suspects

ANTANANARIVO (AFP) - Police in Madagascar said on Tuesday they would exhume for autopsy the body of a boy whose death sparked the lynching of two Europeans and a local man accused of killing him.

The lynch mob was incited by rumours the two European men had sexually abused, killed and mutilated the boy, who was found dead on a beach on the tourist island of Nosy Be.

But the exact circumstances of the boy's death at the start of October have never been clearly established.

"The gendarmerie has requested an autopsy. The family has accepted this and it is now for the forensic doctor to take over," said police deputy commander Guy Bobin Randriamaro.

Police also said they were pursuing eight suspects in the lynchings.

"We know their identities and home addresses. That's why they fled Nosy Be," deputy commander Randriamaro said.

Residents claimed the mob had obtained confessions from the lynching victims - a Frenchman, a Franco-Italian and a local man who was the boy's uncle. But in a recording of the violence one victim can be heard declaring his innocence.

So far police have made 15 arrests, most for rioting and attacking a police barracks the night before the lynchings. They have charged two local men, both now in prison.

A former senator, Mr Joseph Yolande, is also accused of encouraging the population to rebel with broadcasts on local radio.

The boy's body was found with his genitals missing and his intestines exposed, a week after he went missing.

Amid rumours that foreigners were involved, a mob of hundreds got their hands on the two Europeans and burned them on Ambatoloaka beach, a popular tourist spot ringed by bars and hotels.

The boy's uncle was also killed by a rampaging mob hours later.

Mob justice is common in Madagascar, an island nation off the southeastern African coast which authorities struggle to police effectively.