The sister of a teenager who was allegedly beaten to death because relatives thought he was a witch sobbed yesterday as she described how she and her siblings were forced to pray for days on end before being beaten and tortured.
Kelly Bamu, 21, travelled from Paris to the Old Bailey yesterday to give evidence against her older sister Magalie, and her brother-in-law Eric Bikubi. The couple, from Forest Gate, East London, are accused of torturing and killing 15-year-old Kristy Bamu because they believed he had been possessed by kindoki – a prevalent belief within Congolese culture that people can be overcome with evil spirits.
Speaking in French via an interpreter, she described how Bikubi and her older sister focused most of their violence against Kristy, who was found dead in a bath tub on Christmas Day 2010.
"It's very traumatic to see that sort of thing," she recalled, wiping away tears. "His face was completely disfigured. Eric carried on and on and Magalie saw it all – and Kristy, he's dead, he's not here any more."
Speaking from the stand she angrily confronted her sister, accusing her of failing to stop her partner and of joining in with the beatings.
"I begged her 'We're innocent, we haven't done anything' but she didn't care at all," she said. "It was as if it was completely normal, she was just sitting there as a spectator."
Pointing towards her sister, she added: "They should have to undergo the same thing that has happened to Kristy. Magalie deserves to die for what they've done."
Jurors heard how Kelly and Kristy travelled to Britain for the Christmas holidays along with their autistic older brother, Yves, and two younger siblings who cannot be named for legal reasons. She described how the first few days went off without incident. But Bikubi began accusing Kelly, Kristy and a younger sibling of being witches after Kristy wet himself and tried to hide the evidence in the kitchen.
"That was what triggered everything," she said. "All over a pair of pants."
She told jurors how Bikubi and Bamu ordered the younger siblings to fast and pray in an attempt to force them to admit that they were witches.
"I kept repeating, again and again, that we were not witches, that we had come to spend the Christmas holidays as a family together," Kelly said. "I don't know what was going on in their minds but they had decided we were there to kill them."
After a while, she said, the pair became violent. "Eric said we'd had a chance to express ourselves but in his view we were lying," she recalled. "He said: 'Since you don't want to tell the truth I'm going to get the truth out of you with a stick.'"
Prosecutors say Kelly, Kristy and a younger sibling were then beaten for days, with the torture only ending once Kristy – who sustained 101 separate injuries – had drowned in a bath tub.
Bamu and Bikubi are both charged with murder and two counts of assault. Bamu denies all charges against her. Bikubi has pleaded guilty to the assault charges and guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. He denies murder.