Police charge two with Papua New Guinea ‘witch’ killing

Featured South East Asia World - February 19th, 2013
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Police in Papua New Guinea have charged two people with the murder of a woman they accused of witchcraft and burned alive.

Kepari Leniata, a 20-year-old mother, was stripped, tortured and doused in gasoline in front of a mob including children and eventually died in flames on a pile of care tires. Janet Ware and Andrew Watea have been charged with murder.

Ware and Watea are believed to be relatives of a six-year-old boy who recently died in hospital – they had blamed the boy’s death on ‘sorcery’ and accused Leniata of playing a part.

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

AP reports that the two charged Monday 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.