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Young woman burned alive in front children and police officers after being labeled a witch

By Mason White 4:46 AM March 11, 2013
Kepari Leniata 

By: Moses Gold
40 people were arrested after a young woman was burned alive in a public ceremony in front of children and police officers because she was a witch, according to prosecutors in Papua New Guinea.

Papua New Guinea police charged two people on Monday with the gruesome murder of the woman who was burned alive in front of hundreds of people.

Janet Ware and Andrew Watea were charged with murder for killing Kepari Leniata, a 20-year-old mother, who was burned to death in a pile of trash last month.

Leniata had been accused of witchcraft by relatives of a 6-year-old boy who had recently died in a hospital. Ware and Watea are believed to be the child’s mother and uncle, police said in a statement.

The two were among the 40 people arrested last week in connection with the murder. The others were released for lack of evidence, but police said more arrests are expected.

Police said hundreds of spectators, many of whom were children and teenagers, were unable to stop the crowd that participated in the murder of Leniata in the western highlands of the province capital of Mount Hagen.

Police officers were also among the spectators, but were outnumbered and could not save the woman, the national police spokesperson, Dominic Kakas, said. An internal investigation is underway into the actions of police at the scene.