The fate of the family members accused of killing a young mother in an exorcism ceremony will soon be in the jury’s hands.
Eight people are on trial for the manslaughter of 22-year-old Janet Moses, who drowned when water was poured down her throat during the ceremony.
On Wednesday, the Defence made a passionate plea for their acquittal, which appeared to affect even the most seasoned counsel.
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The Crown says the family missed signs of a mental illness and instead fatally tried to treat Moses on their own.
But the Defence says the accused acted out of love and truly believed they were saving the woman from inner demons.
The Defence says that the accused, and even Moses herself, believed she was possessed by a curse.
They say she agreed to the water-cleansing ritual in which she eventually drowned.
The Crown has called over 60 witnesses to give evidence against the accused. The Defence has not called a single one, instead using cross-examination to find flaws in the evidence.
The Times (London) explains: Makatu, a belief in the occult, is a custom that dates back to Polynesian ancestors of the Maoris. Used as a means of enforcing the Maori code of law, it is still a potent force in modern Maori society. Believers think an evil spirit will leave a body it has possessed if they scratch the eyes of the victim and flush the spirit out with water.
Exorcism death accused walks free
One of the nine people accused of killing Janet Moses has walked free from court in Wellington.
The trial is wrapping up for the nine family members charged with the 22-year-old’s manslaughter after she died during a curse lifting ceremony in Wainuiomata in October 2007.
Now one of the family members, Georgina Rawere, is no longer facing a manslaughter charge. Justice Simon France told her she is free to go as there is insufficient evidence to support the charge.
He hastened to tell the jury this means nothing at all in regard to the rest of the accused. The other eight members of her family still stand accused of manslaughter.
The nine people, including five aunts and an uncle, were charged with manslaughter after water poured on to Moses’ face to lift a makutu, or curse, got into her lungs.
The accused believed Moses had become cursed after the theft of a lion statue from a Wairarapa pub.
The Crown says the accused are responsible for Moses’ death, whether they helped to get the water, held her down or physically poured the water down her throat.
But the defence argue it was an act of love.
“They were not acting by anger, retribution, jealousy or punishment. Their actions were solely motivated by a loving desire to help and save their loved one, who wanted to be saved,” says Paul Paino, defence lawyer.
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