PNG women slain over sorcery fears

From: http://edition.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/asiapcf/01/23/papua.sorcery.reut/index.html

Jan 24, 2007

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (Reuters) -- Four Papua New Guinea women, believed by fellow villagers to have used sorcery to cause a fatal road crash, were tortured with hot metal rods to confess, then murdered and buried standing up in a pit, said police.

The National newspaper said on Wednesday that police had only just uncovered the grisly murders, which occurred last October near the town of Goroka in the jungle-clad highlands some 400 kilometers (250 miles) north of the capital, Port Moresby.

Black magic is widespread in the South Pacific nation where most of the 5.1 million population live subsistence lives. Women suspected of being witches are often hung or burned to death.

Local police commander Chief Inspector David Seine told the newspaper that people in the village of Kamex accused the four women of sorcery after a road crash killed three prison officers.

The women were reportedly tortured into admission by being stabbed with hot metal rods, Seine said.

It appeared the women were blindfolded with thick sticky tape strapped across their faces and mouths and their hands had been tied before they were murdered, he said.

Seine said the women were buried in an old narrow toilet pit in the standing position. The pit was then covered with soil and two old vehicle tires placed on the top.

"They planted a banana tree on top of the pit with fresh grass making it difficult for anyone to discover the site, but police got to it with the help of some elders from the village," he said.