By DOROTHY MARK
EIGHT of the 97 villagers convicted of killing seven people in a sorcery-related attack four years ago in Madang have been given the death penalty.
National Court judge Justice David Cannings imposed life sentences on the remaining 88. One had died last month at the Modilon Hospital.
The 97, from villages in the Naho Rawa local level government in the Raicoast district of Madang were found guilty of the murder of three old men, two children and two young men at Sakiko village near Ramu Sugar town. They were each charged with seven counts of wilful murder.
The eight on death row, who the court found were directly involved in the killing of the seven, are Bakun Moa, Enos Aware, Imex Gaosa, Jeffery Ronny, Noguro Sua, Simon Duma, Simon Towera and Winson Dos.
Justice Cannings said the nine who had earlier escaped from custody but recaptured would not get any concession for the period spent in custody. They are Johnson Kafemo, Kaminde Piyomi, Nasa Toko, Ndousi Poruru, Nick Isahara, Noguru Sua, Oni Titukunm, Reuben Daombon and Wiko Muru.
Justice Cannings said the 97 villagers had marched into Sakiko village on Monday, April 14, 2014, motivated by concerns about the number of deaths in the area attributed to sorcery.
He said on their way to Sakiko, the mob killed 35-year-old Sike Wamne who was travelling to work at the sugar cane farm. He was shot with an arrow and hacked to pieces when he fell.
The second to be killed was Nick Uria, 20, who was also shot with an arrow at Sakiko village when he tried to run away. His body was also hacked to pieces.
The third, Yambung Nawoya, 70, died when he was struck on the head.
The fourth, Beramo Tipupu, 73, tried to fight back but was overpowered and killed too.
The fifth, Baupa Dagingayo, 70, was killed and his body thrown into his home which was then set on fire.
The sixth, five-year-old Anao Gunumi was taken off his mother’s arms and killed.
Similarly the seventh, three-year-old Nathan Aki, was snatched from his mother and killed.
Justice Cannings said there was no proven connection or justification between the belief in sorcery and what actually happened.
“So the genuine belief in sorcery is not a mitigating factor. It cannot be regarded as an extenuating circumstance to lessen the gravity of the crimes.”
The 96 were all taken to the Beon Prison after the court case.
By DOROTHY MARK