Pair 'accused girl of witchcraft'


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The Independent Online

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.”