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Every year, hundreds of people in the Central African Republic are convicted of witchcraft. One man, who received a 4-year sentence, says his case highlights some of the failures of the country’s judicial system.
Ange Mberkoulat was convicted of witchcraft after his village chief accused him of trying to kill a relative. He is officially a convict but is serving his sentence outside jail because of lack of resources in prisons
Ange says he was accused falsely. To make things worse arsonists allied to the chief burned down his house and beat up his wife. He and his family of 3 have since moved in with his sister-in-law.
The Central African Republic has endured several coups since independence in 1960 and fighting between rebels and government forces in the north has forced about 300,000 people from their homes. The political situation remains unstable despite disarmament programmes and a new national unity government in 2009.
In a small courtroom in eastern Burundi, state prosecutor Nicodeme Gahimbare waves a bone at the judges and the eight men lined up in front of them, as he states his case.
It’s a human bone.
The eight men are on trial for murdering albinos and trying to sell their body parts across the border in Tanzania, where some people believe that using albino body parts in witchcraft can bring wealth and good fortune. Some of the body parts found are now on display for all to see.
In Burundi, 11 albinos have been killed since last year. In Tanzania, over 40 have been killed since mid-2007 by people who use their body parts, including hair, limbs and genitals, for witchcraft.