By Clarissa Moi in Port Moresby
Papua New Guinea’s National Court has sent a strong message and warning to those accused of sorcery-related violence when it jailed six people for 40 years each for killing a father and his son in Northern province three years ago.
Acting Judge Camillus Sambua jailed Cameron Jovu, Mike Jofo, Clenty Orotu, Branden Asiko, Andrew Sariko and Jesse Akuma, all from Ambene village in Kokoda, last Thursday for the murder of Bartholomew Umbu and his son Siko.
The six killers had accused Umbo and Siku of practising sorcery.
- READ MORE: Jo Chandler on sorcery: Gender, human rights and power investigations in Papua New Guinea – Pacific Journalism Review
Defence lawyer Emmanuel Yavisa from the Public Solicitor’s Office submitted that his clients be jailed 20 to 25 years because sorcery was a mitigating factor.
However, state lawyer Solomon Kuku argued that sorcery was not a mitigating factor as it was based on assumptions and not facts.
Kuku submitted that a term of 30 years to life imprisonment should be imposed as the killings were gruesome with disregard for human life.
Judge Samua then jailed all the six 40 years each.
‘Life a gift from God’
“Life is a gift from God,” he said.
“It should be kept sacred as it is very precious.
“The act by the six accused [was] barbaric with no regard to life,” he added.
Cameron Jovu will serve 40 years concurrently for two counts of murder.
Mike Jofo, Clenty Orotu, Smith Asiko and Brendan Asiko, were jailed for one count of murder, while Jesse Akuma and Andrew Sariko, for two counts of murder.
A total of 18 people were accused of being involved in the sorcery-related killing.
Eleven were acquitted on Tuesday.
Those acquitted were Emmanuel Koviro, Humphrey Konene, Bobby Jovu, Timothy Jofo, Howard Pou, Zebedee Akuma, Frank Johnson, Loide Koiko Sawa, Smith Ariko, Tadiu Roko and Robert Jovu.
Clarissa Moi is a reporter for The National. Republished with permission.