Eight get death penalty over PNG sorcery killings in 2014

7:25 pm on 25 July 2018

Eight of the 97 Papua New Guinean villagers convicted of killing seven people in a sorcery-related attack four years ago in Madang have been given the death penalty.

The Supreme Court in Papua New Guinea.

The Supreme Court in Papua New Guinea. Photo: RNZI/Johnny Blades

The National Court judge Justice David Cannings imposed life sentences on the remaining 88 after one of the accused died last month in hospital.

The 97, from villages on Madang's Rai Coast, were found guilty of the murders of three elderly 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 were found to be directly involved in the murders.

Justice Cannings said the 97 villagers had marched into Sakiko village on April 14, 2014, motivated by concerns about the number of deaths in the area attributed to sorcery.

He said a genuine belief in sorcery cannot be regarded as an extenuating circumstance to lessen the gravity of the crimes.

Belief in witchcraft, sorcery and the occult is known locally as sanguma which is widespread in some provinces.