Wewak District Court In PNG Condemns Man For Sorcery

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Sentencing carried out despite repeal of 1971 Sorcery Act

By Isaac Nicholas

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Sept. 4, 2013) – The Wewak District Court in Papua New Guinea may have erred in law by sentencing a man yesterday to 12 months imprisonment for practising sorcery.

The Sorcery Act 1971 was repealed in its entirety when National Parliament passed amendments to the criminal Code Act in the June session.

But East Sepik police went ahead and arrested and charged Mailon Kenya, 35 of Bogia during the recent Angoram by-election in East Sepik.

Police alleged that on September 2, 2013 at Angoram market the accused had without lawful excuse in his possession implements intended for use in an act of forbidden sorcery, thereby contravening Section 11 (b) of the Sorcery Act 1971.

It was alleged that between 10 and 11 am at Angoram market, reliable information received by police deployed to the Angoram Open by-election that the accused Mr Kenya was practising sorcery for a particular candidate who was contesting the by-election.

The accused was apprehended by police and during a search conducted on the suspect they found in his possession implements such as oil in small containers, tree barks and other substances in a Murik basket. He was taken to Wewak and detained.

On August 30, 2013 the suspect was then formally questioned in relation to the allegation where he admitted being in possession of the implements and further admitted that he was assisting a particular candidate to win the by-election.

He was than formally arrested and charged under the repealed Sorcery Act of 1971.

The accused, who is married with two wives and 13 children, was yesterday sentenced by the Wewak District Court to 12 months imprisonment at the Boram jail.

The Wewak District Court when contacted by the Post-Courier late yesterday said they were not aware of the repealed laws as the evidence was based on police findings.

When told that the Sorcery Act of 1971 was repealed by Parliament this year, the court staff said the magistrate may not be aware of that when making the decision and added that the convicted person still can appeal the sentence.

This year the National Parliament passed amendments to the Criminal Code Bill 2013 that was part of the O’Neill government’s tough legislative reforms aimed at cracking down on serious crimes including sorcery-related killings.

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