PNG police arrest 100 over burning murder

As many as 100 people have been arrested in connection with the horrific burning murder of a young mother in Papua New Guinea.

Police in the Western Highlands city of Mt Hagen made the arrests following an early morning raid on Thursday.

Kepari Leneiata, 20, who was also known as Angelin, was last week stripped, tortured with a hot iron poker and burned alive before a crowd of onlookers after she was accused of using sorcery to kill a 6-year-old boy.

"Police are now in the process of interviewing them. We will know by today or during the weekend how many are formally charged with murder and how many are released," provincial police commander Martin Lakari told the National newspaper.

The murder triggered international outrage, with PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill joining the United Nations, the US and Australia in describing the crime as barbaric.

Police have been under pressure to make arrests after photos in both of PNG's daily national newspapers appeared to show hundreds of witnesses watching Ms Leneiata burn.

Some of those photographed were taking pictures on their mobile phones.

Police in Mt Hagen also say they have also saved two elderly women from being tortured after they were accused of using sorcery to kill an eight year-old girl.

A post-mortem later revealed the girl had been raped and strangled.

Police say the suspects are still at large.

Chairman of PNG's constitutional law reform commission (CLRC), Benjamin Poponawa, said a paper had been prepared for tabling in parliament to repeal PNG's colonial era sorcery legislation.

"To remove the mentality of sorcery, the CLRC is proposing to have the act repealed in its entirety so that such cases of murder can only be dealt with under the criminal justice system," Mr Poponawa said.

"This will classify anyone who kills another person in retaliation for sorcery-related deaths as a murder suspect."

Sunday white men

Very interesting, Challispoint. I don't actually subscribe to WASP mission values, but curious as to whether Sorcery is a religion in PNG, so the Mt Hagen people are not facing murder charges at present.

Nothing to do with Indonesia

Mt Hagen is in Papua New Guinea - which is country in its own right - larger than New Zealand and with a larger population and certainly not part of Indonesia or Indonesian law.

When I lived there in the 90s, many of my PNG friends had parents who could remember meeting "white men" for the first time.  This is a very new country in terms of western legal principles but is very old in terms of underlying spiritual beliefs.

Although there is still a constant stream of missionaries trying to"civilise" the people, many still believe in values close to 40,000 years old.   While such events are shocking to us as New Zealanders - I try not to rush to judge based on my values.   These killings don't seem much different from the deaths resulting from our much more civilised religions in the first world.

PNG Sorcery killing

So, this is related to religious belief which has some protection in Indonesian law?

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