Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Eight sentenced to death in PNG ‘for sorcery killings’



Eight sentenced to death in PNG ‘for sorcery killings’

Eight sentenced to death in PNG ‘for sorcery killings’

Eight people have been sentenced to death and 88 jailed for life over the sorcery-related killings of seven men and children in Papua New Guinea, a report said Wednesday.

The frenzied murders happened in April 2014 in the Pacific nation’s Madang province, with the National Court hearing a “berserk” crowd used bows and arrows, knives and axes to kill the victims.

Of the 97 people charged, eight were handed the death penalty and 88 imprisoned, The National newspaper reported. The other person died last month.

AFP was unable to reach the court in Madang to confirm the verdicts.

Local PNG media have previously reported that the crowd marched on Sakiko village, motivated by concerns about several deaths in the area attributed to sorcery.

The National said Wednesday the mob first killed a man travelling to work at a sugar cane farm. He was shot with an arrow and hacked to pieces. Another was also hit with an arrow then bludgeoned with knives and axes.

Three other men were killed before two children, aged 5 and 3, were snatched from their mother’s arms, the newspaper said. Previous reports said they were “chopped to pieces”.

In sentencing, Justice David Cannings said there was no proven connection or justification between the belief in sorcery and what happened.

“So the genuine belief in sorcery is not a mitigating factor. It cannot be regarded as an extenuating circumstance to lessen the gravity of the crimes,” he was cited as saying.

“Black magic” and cannibalism sometimes occur in PNG, a sprawling and poor nation where many people do not accept natural causes as an explanation for misfortune, illness, accidents or death.

Rights groups have waged campaigns for justice for victims of sorcery-related attacks, spurred by the horrific murder of a young woman accused of witchcraft in 2013.

In that case, Kepari Leniata, 20, was stripped naked, tied up, doused in petrol and burned alive in front of a crowd by relatives of a boy who died following an illness in the Mount Hagen area.

Following Leniata’s murder, in 2013 PNG repealed the 1971 Sorcery Act which allowed a reduced sentence for anyone who committed assault or murder if they believed their victim had been involved in sorcery.
It also revived the death penalty for violent crimes.

The law allows for execution by lethal injection, hanging and firing squad, but it has not been carried out since 1954.

MOST VIEWED

  • NY sisters inspired by Khmer heritage

    Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Cambodian-American sisters Edo and Eyen Chorm have always felt a deep affinity for their Cambodian heritage and roots. When the pair launched their own EdoEyen namesake jewellery brand in June, 2020, they leaned heavily into designs inspired by ancient Khmer

  • Schools drawn into Manet degree row

    Prime Minister Hun Sen stepped into the Hun Manet-Sam Rainsy war of words over the validity of Manet’s degree from the US Military Academy at West Point, set off by Rainsy’s claims that Manet had received a “second-class degree” or “honorary degree”. Hun

  • Cambodia records first Omicron community case

    The Ministry of Health on January 9 reported 30 new Covid-19 cases, 29 of which were imported and all were confirmed to be the Omicron variant. The ministry also reported 11 recoveries and no new deaths. Earlier on January 9, the ministry also announced that it had detected the Kingdom's

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • PM eyes Myanmar peace troika

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has suggested that ASEAN member states establish a tripartite committee or diplomatic troika consisting of representatives from Cambodia, Brunei and Indonesia that would be tasked with mediating a ceasefire in Myanmar. The premier also requested that Nippon Foundation chairman Yohei Sasakawa

  • Kampot tourism quay ‘90% done’

    Construction on Kampot International Tourism Port – a 4ha quay in Teuk Chhou district about 6km west of Kampot town – has fallen off track, reaching 90 per cent completion, according to a senior Ministry of Tourism official last week. The project is now planned to be finished