Pair 'accused girl of witchcraft'

 

A couple on trial for murdering a 15-year-old because they thought he was a sorcerer previously accused a young woman of practising witchcraft, the Old Bailey heard today.

Eric Bikubi, 27, and Magalie Bamu, 28, are accused of torturing and drowning teenager Kristy Bamu in a bathtub because they believed he was overcome by kindoki – a prevalent superstition within Congolese communities that evil spirits can possess someone.

Prosecutors allege that the couple used an “armoury of weapons” to beat Kristy and three of his siblings over a four day period in December 2010. The family had been sent from Paris to stay with their eldest sister Magalie Bamu for the Christmas holidays.

At the second day of the prosecution’s opening case, Brian Altman QC said evidence had emerged that the couple had a history of accusing people of witchcraft in what he described as “an echo of what would happen two and a half years later”. 

In August 2008, he said, Bikubi accused family friend Naomi Ilonga of being a witch and of interfering with the sleep patterns of a family member. The court heard how the allegations of witchcraft began because Miss Ilonga “bit her nails”. Bikubi ordered his girlfriend Magalie Bamu to throw away anything that Miss Ilonga had touched “including clothing, pots, pans and plates.”

Prosecutors say Bikubi and Bamu then subjected the 19-year-old to three days of fasting and praying in what they believed was a ritual that could “release Naomi’s bad spiritual soul”. Mr Atlman added: “Naomi had then to consent to the cutting of her hair – long hair of which she was proud – to release the witchcraft.”

Bamu and Bikubi are charged with murder and two counts of assault against Kristy’s siblings. Bamu has denied all charges. Bikubi denies murder but has pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of dished responsibility – arguing he was not of sound mind at the time of the offence. He has also pleaded guilty to the two assault charges.

The prosecution argue that Bikubi was “perfectly able to form rational judgement” and told the jury that kindoki is “a belief that many intelligent people across the African continent also share.”

Lawyers this morning presented the jury with pictures of a number of weapons that were found in the flat containing Kristy’s blood including a pair of pliers, a chisel, a knife, two planks of wood and a paint roller.

After prosecutors finished delivering their opening statement, Judge Paget told the jury to “put aside emotions and look at the facts” as they are presented with the evidence over the next five weeks. “You can only decide this case when you have heard all the evidence.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy