Kepari Leniata - In Memorandum
Kepari Leniata, a 20-year-old woman and young mother, was tortured by an iron rod, doused in gasoline, and then set on fire while alive at a trash site in the Western Highlands provincial capital of Mount Hagen, Papua New Guinea. She was accused of practicing sorcery by the relatives of a 6-year-old boy who died in a hospital a day earlier. ... A mob of as many as 50 villagers are suspected of binding, beating, and burning the victim in broad daylight, with the prime suspect being the woman's husband. Hundreds of people, including children, stood by and watched the gory spectacle and took pictures. No arrests were made and no suspects have been picked up.
In 1971, Papua New Guinea introduced a Sorcery Act to criminalise the practice of Sorcery. See: Village Courts Act 1973 by Regulation 3(b) of the Village Courts Regulations 1974
Accused Witch Burned Alive in Papua New Guinea, Hundreds of Witnesses Watched
A horrid scene unfolded Wednesday in Papua New Guinea that resembled a scene out of the Salem Witch Trials when a mob of villagers bounded and burned a 20-year-old woman accused of witch craft, the Associated Press reports.
Kepari Leniata, was tortured by an iron rod, doused in gasoline, and then set on fire while a live at a trash site in the Western Highlands provincial capital of Mount Hagen, authorities say. She was accused of practicing sorcery by the relatives of a 6-year-old boy who died in a hospital a day earlier.
Hundreds of people, including children, stood by and watched the gory spectacle and took pictures. The photos were published on the cover of the nation's most widely read newspaper, report say. The country's prime ministers and other government officials strongly condemned the killing.
No arrests were made and the Mount Hagen police say they could not control the mob. As many as 50 people are suspected of beating the victim with the prime suspect being the woman's husband who has fled the area, authorities say.
"The incident happened in broad daylight in front of hundreds of eyewitnesses and yet we haven't picked up any suspects yet," said national police spokesman Dominic Kakas, adding that the country's Deputy Police Commissioner Simon Kauba was furious with investigators on the scene.
"We are in the 21st century and this is totally unacceptable," Police Commissioner Tom Kulung said in a statement.
Prime Minister Pete O'Neill has demanded that investigators use all the power at their disposal to make arrests and enforce justice. U.S. and Australian diplomats have condemned the killing, the U.S. has also issued a statement to strengthen anti-gender based violence laws, reports say.
New Guinea Woman Tortured Burned Alive in Sorcery Case
By Agence France-Presse
Thursday, February 7, 2013
A young mother accused of sorcery was stripped naked, doused with petrol and burned alive in front of a crowd including schoolchildren in Papua New Guinea, reports said on Thursday.
The woman, named by The National newspaper as Kepari Leniata, 20, was reportedly tortured with a branding iron and tied up, splashed with fuel and set alight on a pile of rubbish topped with car tyres.
According to the rival Post-Courier newspaper she was torched by villagers who claimed she killed a six-year-old boy through sorcery, with police outnumbered by onlookers and unable to intervene.
A fire truck that responded to the incident, which took place on Wednesday morning in Mount Hagen city in the Western Highlands, was also chased away.
According to the reports, which were accompanied by graphic front-page images of the woman’s burning corpse, she admitted to killing the boy, who died after being hospitalised with stomach and chest pains on Tuesday.
Police said they were treating the torching as murder and preparing charges against those responsible.
There is a widespread belief in sorcery in the poverty-stricken Pacific nation where many people do not accept natural causes as an explanation for misfortune, illness, accidents or death.
In 1971, the country introduced a Sorcery Act to criminalise the practice. But PNG’s law reform commission recently proposed to repeal it after a rise in attacks on people thought to practise black magic.
Local bishop David Piso said many innocent people had been killed.
“Sorcery and sorcery-related killings are growing and the government needs to come up with a law to stop such practice,” Piso told The National.
The US embassy in the Papua New Guinea capital Port Moresby issued a statement strongly condemning the “brutal murder” of Leniata, who had an eight-month-old daughter, as evidence of “pervasive gender-based violence”.
“We add our voice to those of Papua New Guinean religious and civil society leaders who have spoken out against the brutality inflicted upon Ms Leniata,” the embassy said.
“There is no possible justification for this sort of violence. We hope that appropriate resources are devoted to identifying, prosecuting, and punishing those responsible for Ms Leniata’s murder.”
Police arrested dozens of people last year linked to an alleged cannibal cult accused of killing at least seven people, eating their brains raw and making soup from their penises.
There have been several other cases of witchcraft and cannibalism in PNG in recent years, with a man reportedly found eating his screaming, newborn son during a sorcery initiation ceremony in 2011.
In 2009, a young woman was stripped naked, gagged and burnt alive at the stake, also in Mount Hagen, in what was said to be a sorcery-related crime.