On MailOnline, Richard Shears writes that on Feb. 18, police arrested two suspects in Papua New Guinea following the murder of Kepari Leniata, the 20-year-old mother burned alive earlier this month after accusations of witchcraft. Police arrested Andrew Watea, 33, and Janet Ware, 28, for the murder of Leniata. If convicted, Ware and her brother-in-law Watea could face the death sentence.
Kepari Leniata’s horrific death drew international attention, with a number of organizations, including Amnesty International and representatives from the United Nations, demanding swift justice. Close relatives of a recently deceased six-year-old boy accused Leniata of having killed the boy by means of witchcraft. The boy had died in the hospital following complaints of terrible stomach pain. Leniata was seized by a crowd of villagers, bound, stripped of her clothing, doused in gasoline and tossed on a pile of trash where she was set on fire. Burning tires were placed on her body as she screamed out in agony.
Shears writes that Leniata was tortured into confessing of having used sorcery to murder the boy. A few weeks after the murder, police conducted raids on several Papua New Guinea villages and detained more than 100 people for questioning. According to Martin Lakari, the police commander superintendent, the majority of those detained endured “intensive questioning” before being released, but Watea and Wares were charged.
According to an article on Hobby Lobby, Due to lack of evidence, police released most of those detained for questioning, but police have not ruled out the possibility of more arrests in the near future. Dominic Kakas, a police representative, said that there were police officers on the scene when the crime occurred, but they were outnumbered by the large crowd, so they were unable to stop the crime. There is a pending internal investigation of police action during Leniata’s murder.
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