Mob stripped, tortured and bound 20 yr old mother accused of witchcraft, burned her alive in front of hundreds in Papua New Guinea (Graphic) – 080213 1455z

A mob stripped, tortured and bound a woman accused of witchcraft, then burned her alive in front of hundreds of horrified witnesses in a Papua New Guinea town, police said Friday. It was the latest sorcery-related killing in this South Pacific island nation.

 

(Photo: Post Courier/Associated Press) Bystanders watch as a woman accused of witchcraft is burned alive in the Western Highlands provincial capital of Mount Hagen in Papua New Guinea

 

Bystanders, including many children, watched and some took photographs of Wednesdays brutal slaying. Grisly pictures were published on the front pages of the countrys two largest newspapers, The National and the Post-Courier, while the prime minister, police and diplomats condemned the killing.

 

In rural Papua New Guinea, witchcraft is often blamed for unexplained misfortunes. Sorcery has traditionally been countered by sorcery, but responses to allegations of witchcraft have become increasingly violent in recent years.

 

Kepari Leniata, a 20-year-old mother, had been accused of sorcery by relatives of a 6-year-old boy who died in a hospital on Tuesday.

 

She was tortured with a hot iron rod, bound, doused in gasoline, and then set alight on a pile of car tires and trash in the Western Highlands provincial capital of Mount Hagen, national police spokesman Dominic Kakas said.

 

Deputy Police Commissioner Simon Kauba on Friday blasted Mount Hagen investigators by phone for failing to make a single arrest, Kakas said.

 

The public were apparently not co-operating with police, and police carrying out the investigation were not working hard enough, Kakas said.

 

He was very, very disappointed that theres been no arrest made as yet, Kakas said.

 

The incident happened in broad daylight in front of hundreds of eyewitnesses and yet we havent picked up any suspects yet, he added.

 

Kakas described the victims husband as the prime suspect and said the man had fled the province. Kakas said he did not know if there was a relationship between the husband and the dead boys family.

 

He said more than 50 people are suspected to have laid a hand on the victim and committed crimes in the mob attack. While many children had witnessed the killing, there were no child suspects, he said.

 

Kakas said onlookers were shocked by the brutality but were powerless to stop the mob. Police officers were also present but were outnumbered and could not save the woman, he said. There is an internal investigation under way into what action police at the scene took.

 

Police Commissioner Tom Kulunga described the slaying as shocking and devilish.

 

We are in the 21st century and this is totally unacceptable, Kulunga said in a statement.

 

He suggested courts be established to deal with sorcery allegations, as an alternative to villagers dispensing justice.

 

Prime Minister Pete ONeill said he had instructed police to use all available manpower to bring the killers to justice.

 

It is reprehensible that women, the old and the weak in our society should be targeted for alleged sorcery or wrongs that they actually have nothing to do with, ONeill said.

 

The U.S. Embassy in the national capital, Port Moresby, issued a statement calling for a sustained international partnership to enhance anti-gender-based violence laws throughout the Pacific.

 

The embassy of Australia, Papua New Guineas colonial ruler until independence in 1975 and now its biggest foreign aid donor, said: We join all reasonable Papua New Guineans in looking forward to the perpetrators being brought to justice.

 

The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said the killing adds to the growing pattern of vigilante attacks and killings of persons accused of sorcery in Papua New Guinea.

 

In other recent sorcery-related killings, police arrested 29 people in July last year accused of being part of a cannibal cult in Papua New Guineas jungle interior and charged them with the murders of seven suspected witch doctors.

 

Kakas could not immediately say what had become of the 29 since their first court appearances last year in the north coast province of Madang.

 

Police alleged the cult members ate their victims brains raw and made soup from their penises.

 

The killers allegedly believed that their victims practiced sorcery and that they had been extorting money as well as demanding sex from poor villagers for their supernatural services.

 

By eating witch doctors organs, the cult members believed they would attain supernatural powers.

 

Murder in punishable by death in Papua New Guinea, a poor tribal nation of 7 million people who are mostly subsistence farmers. But no one has been hanged since independence. globaltvbc.com

 

Barbaric murder shocks PC

Police commissioner Kulunga says Mt Hagen sorcery killing is shocking and devilish
Police Commissioner Tom Kulunga has condemned the Mt Hagen sorcery related killing, describing it is shocking and devilish.
Commissioner Kulunga said police would arrest and prosecute the murderers.
We are in the 21st century and this is totally unacceptable, Mr Kulunga said. He renewed calls previously made by the Constabulary for a holistic approach to putting an end to sorcery related killings.
Mr Kulunga said while those involved in the killing would be arrested and brought to justice the potential for future sorcery related killings still remained.
Churches, NGOs and relevant government departments need to take some responsibility in addressing this issue so that we end, if not minimise, further socery related killings, he said, adding that perhaps one way is to appoint special courts to deal with sorcery related cases.
Mr Kulunga also suggested education and the raising of awareness in provinces where such killings are widespread to deal with the issue. postcourier.com.pg

PM condemns gruesome burning

PRIME Minister Peter ONeill has condemned the barbaric killing of a young woman in Mt Hagen on Wednesday and directed that the full force of the law be applied to those responsible.
The media has reported that a young mother, identified as Kepari Lanieta from Enga Province, was tortured with a hot iron rod and burnt alive in front of a crowd.
What has been reported is very barbaric and inhuman. No one commits such a despicable act in the society that all of us, including Kepari, belong to, the Prime Minister said yesterday.
Mr ONeill directed the Police Minister to ensure police use all the resources and manpower available to bring those responsible to justice.
Barbaric killings connected with alleged sorcery (and) violence against women because of the belief that sorcery kills (is unacceptable). These are becoming all too common in certain parts of the country, he said.
It is reprehensible that women, the old and the weak in our society, should be targeted for alleged sorcery or wrongs that they actually have nothing to do with.
I have told the Police Minister that I want to see those responsible for the killing of this woman brought to justice, Mr ONeill said.
I also want to appeal to the relatives of late Kepari to remain calm and allow police to carry out their work.
The Prime Minister also said the work of former Constitutional Review Commission Chairman late Joe Mek Teine will be reviewed to toughen laws on sorcery related killings.
Before he died in April 2011, Mr Teine was conducting a study into increasing sorcery related killings in the Highlands and reviewing the Criminal Code to address incidents in the region.- postcourier.com.pg

Update 12 April 2013:

2 charged in Papua New Guinea ‘witch’ killing

USA TODAY 2:57 p.m. EST February 18, 2013

“Two people, believed to be the mother and uncle of a boy whose death they attributed to sorcery, face murder charges after a woman accused of witchcraft was allegedly tortured and burned alive.

SYDNEY (AP) — Papua New Guinea police charged two people on Monday with the grisly killing of a woman who was burned alive in front of hundreds of people, including young children, after being accused of witchcraft.

Janet Ware and Andrew Watea were charged with murder over the slaying of Kepari Leniata, a 20-year-old mother who was stripped, tortured with a hot iron rod, doused in gasoline and set alight on a pile of car tires and trash by a mob earlier this month.

Leniata had been accused of sorcery by relatives of a 6-year-old boy who had recently died in a hospital. Ware and Watea are believed to be the boy’s mother and uncle, police said in a statement.

The two were among more than 40 people who were detained last week in connection with Leniata’s slaying. The others were eventually released due to lack of evidence, but police said more arrests are expected.

In rural Papua New Guinea, witchcraft is often blamed for unexplained misfortunes, but the brutal killing was met with outrage across the South Pacific island nation, drawing condemnation from the prime minister, police and diplomats.

Police said the hundreds of onlookers, many of whom were children and teenagers, were powerless to stop the mob who participated in Leniata’s killing in the Western Highlands provincial capital of Mount Hagen. Police officers were also among the spectators, but were outnumbered and couldn’t save the woman, national police spokesman Dominic Kakas said. An internal investigation is under way into the police’s actions at the scene.

Murder is punishable by death in Papua New Guinea, although no one has been hanged since the country became independent in 1975.” – usatoday.com

 

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