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PAC: PNG man chopped up by angry mob amid sorecery claims

By Ilya Gridneff, Papua New Guinea Correspondent
30 Jan 2009 3:17 PM

PORT MORESBY, Jan 30 AAP - A Papua New Guinea man accused of practising sorcery was hacked to death with bush knives by an angry mob while a doctor tried in vain to stop the brutal murder.

The death of John Ogono, 40, and the torture of Sehupa Trimek, 25, outside Goroka in PNG's Eastern Highlands province last weekend came to light on Friday.

National Doctors Association president, Kauve Pomat, in the village at the time of the murder, told AAP it was like a "horror film".

"I and other leaders tried desperately to calm the group but they were beyond reasoning," he said.

"After they killed him the next two, three days there was an eerie silence in the whole community, you could sense something bad had happened," he said.

The slain man was tried for a using magic to kill another villager in what Pomat described as a "kangaroo court," comprising of church pastors and village court officials.

When pronounced guilty the man was carried away and chopped to death by a group of men armed with bush knives, eye witnesses told PNG's National newspaper.

Pomat pleaded with the locals to spare the man's life but could only manage to save another man as he was tortured for similar sorcery claims.

Pomat said he stopped the men as they cut Trimek with knives and pushed a red-hot iron rod into his body.

"I've been in shock for days, I couldn't sleep, even now retelling this, I feel distressed," Pomat said.

Eastern Highlands provincial police commander Chief Supt Teddy Tei condemned the killing and said there would be an investigation.

Sorcery is often blamed for PNG's sudden or unexplained deaths.

The highlands region had its first contact with western influence in the 1930s but for some groups it was as late as the 1960s.

Christian missions and the Australian territorial administration of PNG, along with the PNG government, did their best to end belief in sorcery, but strong superstitions remain.

Earlier this month a young woman was stripped naked, bound, gagged and burnt alive in the Western Highlands town of Mt Hagen in what some locals speculated was a sorcery-related crime.

Local police described the murder as "barbaric" and later said at least 50 people last year were killed due to sorcery accusations.