Exorcism accused to stand trial
The stone lion said to have caused a curse on Janet Moses, the Wainuiomata mother who later died in an exorcism ceremony, is one of the exhibits at a depositions hearing for the nine people accused of her death.
The six women and three men, all members of Ms Moses’ extended family, will stand trial in the High Court at Wellington, jointly charged with manslaughter, after their five lawyers agreed they had a case to answer.
Police say Ms Moses, 22, drowned in her grandparents’ home in October last year after she was allegedly held down and had water poured down her throat to lift a makutu, or Maori curse, as up to 40 family members watched.
In Lower Hutt District Court yesterday, the nine accused each stood individually and answered “not guilty” to the charge. A tenth man pleaded not guilty to cruelty to a child. He was charged after a 14-year-old was also injured.
Evidence in the form of 98 written statements and 40 exhibits was handed to two justices of the peace, including a large ripped sheet of paper containing words in Maori, titled “Whanau Karakia” and handwritten in block letters.
The stone lion, said to be the cause of the makutu after a family member allegedly stole it from the Greytown Hotel a week before the ceremony, also stood at the front of the court during the hearing.
Name suppression was continued for the six women and three men, and for a 10th person, a man charged with cruelty to a child, after a 14 year-old girl was injured at the same ceremony.
At an earlier hearing, a lawyer for one of the accused said the case involved sensitive cultural issues and argued the defendants faced potential public vilification if their identities were revealed.