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Alleged witch burned alive in Papua New Guinea

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 09:25 p.m. HST, Feb 07, 2013

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea » A woman accused of witchcraft has been burned alive in front of hundreds of witnesses in Papua New Guinea town in one of the highest profile sorcery-rated murders in this South Pacific island nation, police said Thursday.

The brutal slaying of 20-year-old mother of one Kepari Leniata on Tuesday has been condemned by the nation's prime minister, police and diplomatic observers.

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

Some of the hundreds of bystanders took photographs. Grisly pictures were published on the front pages of the country's biggest circulating newspapers, The National and Post-Courier.

Leniata was accused of sorcery by relatives of a 6-year-old boy who died in the local hospital the day before, Kakas said.

"Investigations are continuing. We've got good leads. The husband is the prime suspect," Kakas said.

Sorcery has traditionally been countered by sorcery in Papuan New Guinean culture. But responses to sorcery allegations have become increasingly violent in recent years.

Kakas said the death was the first the sorcery-related murder in Papua New Guinea in a year.

Police Commissioner Tom Kulunga described the murder as "shocking and devilish."

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

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

Prime Minister Pete O'Neill 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," O'Neill said.

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

The embassy of Australia, Papua New Guinea's colonial ruler until independence in 1975 and now its biggest foreign aid donor, said in a statement: "We join the U.S. embassy and the PNG government in condemning this murder and join all reasonable Papua New Guineans in looking forward to the perpetrators being brought to justice."

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3ocean3000 wrote:
on February 8,2013 | 06:09AM
nodaddynotthebelt wrote:
This is so sad and so tragic. In this day and age we still have people living in the Stone Age.
on February 8,2013 | 09:53AM
nodaddynotthebelt wrote:
Lest we forget the Witch Hunts of our past in American history: We must remind ourselves that we still do that today in other shape and form to our brothers and sisters because they are different from us or practice a different religion.
on February 8,2013 | 10:13AM
nodaddynotthebelt wrote:
We still do that today. We just don't kill people like in the days of the Witch Hunts. We do it to people who are gay or have a different religion and blame them for all the problems.
on February 8,2013 | 10:15AM
64hoo wrote:
the muslim countries hang gay people so I guess the husband of this lady and the other people involve must be muslim. the lady that was burned was probably against there religion so they burned her at the stake and just said that she was a sorceress. sick people these radical muslims.
on February 8,2013 | 12:37PM
cojef wrote:
I thought they mutilated the genitals of innocent young female children, yet they promise jihadists 7 vestal virgins in martyrdom. Question, what virgins?
on February 8,2013 | 04:45PM
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