122 People Face Murder Charges In Largest Sorcery Case Heard In Papua New Guinea

Mob accused of retaliatory killing of seven people by hacking them to death

By Jayne Safihao

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, March 23, 2017) – The biggest sorcery-related court case in the country, "Ramu 122", was heard in Madang yesterday at which 97 of 122 people accused of willful murder appeared for arraignment. All pleaded not guilty to seven counts of willful murder before Justice David Cannings at Madang National Court.

Gruesome details of the murders of seven people, including two children, were heard for the first time in a packed courtroom.

The court heard that on April 14, 2014, the accused from six different villages in the hinterlands of Naho Rawa local level government in Rai Coast electorate of Madang Province planned a retaliatory attack on suspected sorcerers.

It was alleged that the 122 men – the youngest two being 15 and 17 years old – formed a "hausman" where discussions of the planned killings of suspects were discussed and carried out.

The court heard that on the said date the men gathered at Ranara – armed with bows and arrows, homemade and factory made guns, bush knives and axes – and proceeded to Sakiko village where the suspects were believed to have sought refuge.

The village is three kilometres from the Ramu Sugar township. According to facts presented in court, the men attacked a Ramu Agri employee from Jiwaka Province, chopping him to death on their way to the village.

At Sakiko the men went berserk, killing four more people and two children, aged three and five, who were wrenched from their mothers’ arms and chopped to pieces.

Senior state prosecutor Francis Popeu described the gruesome murders as "planned with all aiding and abetting each other with the common intent to kill".

The 97 men yesterday appeared from custody. The other 24 who were released on bail failed to show up while one had since died.

The matter was adjourned to tomorrow morning when the State will call its witnesses.

PNG Post-Courier
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