A young mother-of-two from Papua New Guinea has been burned alive after being found guilty of witchcraft.20-year-old Kepari Leniata has been registered on Find a Grave as a wife and mother who passed away in Mount Hagen, Western Higlands on February 6, and has been buried in Port Moresby.
The Sop details the horrific incident – she has been stripped, tied up on a mount of garbage, doused in gasoline and set on fire by villagers.
Leniata was accused of taking the life of a six-year-old boy, who died in a local hospital a day before. While the cause of his death has not been disclosed, a complaint was filed against Leniata by his relatives and she was found guilty of murder.
The mob gathered to watch her burning included schoolchildren presumably brought in by their parents. When firefighters tried to put out the flames, they were stopped by the hundreds of villagers at the scene.
According to Voice of America, Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Pete O'Neill is now sanctioning the crime and is seeing that those responsible are charged. The U.S. embassy is also condemning the incident, dubbing it a “brutal murder.”
A public execution motivated by witchcraft allegations is not uncommon in Papua New Guinea, where two-thirds of women are facing domestic violence and abuse.
In 2009, Zama Coursen-Neff of Human Rights Watch wrote about how murder trials are expedited when sorcery charged are brought.
“But allegations of sorcery are far too often used to hide ordinary murders. Blaming the victim just makes it a little easier for the police to take no action.
“Even if charges are brought and someone is convicted, claims that the victim practiced sorcery can be used to mitigate a murder sentence, officials from the Law Reform Commission have said,” she describes.