Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Woman burned at stake after being accused of witchcraft - Telegraph

Woman burned at stake after being accused of witchcraft - Telegraph

Local media reported the victim, aged between 16 to 21, had been killed after being accused of conducting an extra marital affair, spreading Aids to one of her murderers and for being a sorceress.

According to witnesses the victim in the latest "sorcery killing", was stripped, blindfolded, gagged and tied to a pole on top of a pyre of car tyres and firewood on a garbage dump in the Mount Hagen region, The Post Courier newspaper reported.

Several men then poured petrol over her and set the pyre ablaze.

"The girl was stripped naked and could not shout for assistance or resist as she was tightly strapped and her mouth gagged," witness Jessie James, 21, said.

The prevalence of crimes linked to black magic has led local media to compare the murders in the highlands to the 17th century witch trials in America.

Simon Kauba, highlands police chief, said belief in witchcraft was still widespread in the region.

"I don't know the right words to describe it but it's barbaric. Can you find the best words to describe such acts that are rampant here?" he said.

The Post Courier newspaper editorial condemned the killing as "yet one more example of hysteria and superstition running rampant in parts of our country".

"How many of our young are afraid to go home because of these sorcery beliefs and vengeance practices? Those who say she got primitive justice should pause to think, it could be you next on that truckload of burning tyres," it said.

Most reports of women being tortured and killed after being accused of witchcraft in PNG in recent years have been linked to the growing death toll on the island from Aids.

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