Teenager 'murdered for practising witchcraft', court hears

 

A British Congolese couple tortured a teenage boy to death on Christmas Day because they believed he was practising witchcraft in a “staggering act of depravity and cruelty”, a court heard today.

The battered and lifeless body of Kristy Bamu, a 15-year-old boy from Paris, was found in a bathtub in an East London flat on 25 December 2010 after he was subjected to what prosecutors described as four days of “unimaginable physical torture”.

His older sister Magalie Bamu and her partner Eric Bikubi are standing trial for his murder and for assaulting two of his siblings.

At the start of their trial at the Old Bailey this morning, prosecutor Brian Altman QC said Bamu, 28, and Bikubi, 27, attacked Kristy and his siblings with an “armoury of weapons” which included metal bars, wooden planks, pliers and floor tiles. They were motivated, he said, by a belief in 'kindoki' – a highly prevalent superstition within the Congolese community that witches and evil spirits are able to possess a body and control others to do harm.

The trial heard how Kristy and four of his siblings were sent from Paris to London by their parents on 16th December to spend the Christmas holidays with his older sister. Although the first few days passed without incident, Bikubi became convinced that Kristy and his siblings were witches who were having a malign influence on a younger child in the house.

The court heard how Kristy soon became “the focus” of Bikubi's attention who - with the help of Magalie Bamu - began torturing the Kristy and beating his siblings in an attempt to force them to admit that they were sorcerers.

Mr Altman said Kristy died from a combination of being beaten and then drowned in a bath tub. When a post mortem was carried out on his body pathologists found 101 separate injuries.

“Rather than plead for his life,” Mr Altman said, “in the end he just gave up and begged to be allowed to die.”

Prosecutors also allege that Bikubi and Bamu forced some of Kristy's siblings to take part in his ritualistic torture. He said: "Wickedly, the defendants also recruited sibling against sibling as vehicles for their violence. The children had no option other than to do as they were told, or risk the same violence to themselves."

Paramedics were called to the flat shortly after noon on Christmas Day where they found Bikubi attempting chest compressions on Kristy. According to Mr Altman, one of the paramedics spoke French and asked the oldest sibling Kelly Bamu, 21, what had happened. The paramedic received “a tale of horror” as she pointed to a variety of bloodied weapons that had been used to torture them.

Bikubi denies murder but has pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility – a plea which has not been accepted by the Crown Prosecution Service. He has also pleaded guilty to the two assault charges. Bamu has pleaded not guilty to all charges. The trial is expected to last five weeks.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Sport
Bradford City's reward for their memorable win over Chelsea is a trip to face either Sunderland or Fulham (Getty)
football
News
Lars Andersen took up archery in his mid thirties
video
Voices
Focus E15 Mothers led a protest to highlight the lack of affordable housing in London
voicesLondon’s housing crisis amounts to an abuse of human rights, says Grace Dent
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea