Religion News Blog — A couple convicted for torturing and murdering a 15-year-old boy they accused of using witchcraft have been jailed for life.
Football coach Eric Bikubi, 28, has been ordered to serve at least 30 years. His partner, Magalie Bamu, 29, will serve a minimum of 25 years.
The pair was convicted for murdering Magalie’s 15-year-old brother in what has been referred to as a ‘completely feral’ attack.
Believing that Kristy was trying to bewitch them, the couple beat and tortured him for three days, using used knives, sticks, kitchen tiles, metal bars, a pair of pliers, a hammer and a chisel. The boy was also denied food.
Kristy’s two brothers (13 and 22) and two sisters (11 and 20), who had joined him during on a vacation from France to their older sister, were forced to participate in his beatings. Initially the sibblings were accused on Kindoki (witchcraft) as well, but after they ‘confessed’ to being witches, the attacks focused on Kristy, who had refused to confess.
According to court records the boy was in such pain that he ‘begged to die.” He finally drowned in a bathtub on Christmas Day 2010, during an exorcism ritual.
During sentencing Judge David Paget said he accepted Bikubi’s defence that he had brain damage and had believed that Kristy was a witch.
But he added “The belief in witchcraft, however genuine, cannot excuse an assault to another person, let alone the killing of another human being.”
Paget told Magalie Bamu that he rejected her denial of a belief in witchcraft. During the trial Bamu had claimed Bikubi forced her to attack her brother.
Bikubi pleaded guilty to two counts of causing actual bodily harm to the girls. Bamu denied the assaults but was found guilty.
Scotland Yard has investigated 83 cases involving abuse resulting from ritualistic or faith-based beliefs, and brought 17 prosecutions, over the last 10 years.
Detective Superintendent Terry Sharpe said: “This is a hidden and under-reported crime and therefore difficult to deal with in terms of protecting potential victims from harm.”
Save the Children’s head of child protection, Bill Bell, said: “This case must serve as a wake-up call to governments and local authorities to do more to prevent this kind of terrible abuse from happening to children in future.”