22 Apr 2013

30 year sentence for sorcery murder in PNG

6:17 pm on 22 April 2013

A Papua New Guinean who accused his aunt of sorcery and killed her with an axe has been jailed for 30 years, days after the United Nations urged a tougher stance on such murders.

21 year old Saku Uki Aiya, was found guilty of the "senseless, barbaric and brutal" killing after a two-day trial in Enga province.

The National newspaper cited local police commander Sergeant Simon Mek saying it was the first sorcery-related killing in the area to reach a national court.

Sergeant Mek says many such cases are reported, but rarely go through to the high court as relatives accept a custom settlement through the village courts.

There is a widespread belief in sorcery in PNG, where many people do not accept natural causes as an explanation for misfortune and death, and there have been a spate of recent high-profile cases.

The beheading of an elderly woman accused of witchcraft earlier this month in Bougainville prompted the UN to demand the government in Port Moresby tackle the scourge.