Reuters, Sep. 11, 2002
Freetown – A Sierra Leonean court sentenced a 70-year-old man to death on Wednesday for the ritual murder of a seven-year-old boy whose heart and other organs were removed.
Ritual killings or human sacrifices to local deities are customary in parts of West Africa, where some people commission killings to obtain body parts for magic spells to gain political power and influence.
“Ritual murder in Sierra Leone is becoming rampant,” Judge Olu Ademusu told the court before sentencing Alhaji Bockarie Kallon to death.
He said a number of other cases of suspected ritual murder were being investigated.
The killing of a young black boy whose headless body was discovered floating in the River Thames in London a year ago sparked an international investigation after experts said the case had the hallmarks of a West African ritual murder.
Sierra Leone is struggling to recover from over a decade of civil war in which hundreds of women and children had their hands, feet or ears sliced off with machetes by roving gangs of drug-taking rebels. Tens of thousands more were killed or raped.