PAPUA NEW GUINEA
Elderly women beheaded
Two elderly women were beheaded after being tortured for three days, a report said yesterday, the latest in a string of sorcery-related crimes. The Post-Courier newspaper said police were present during the killings last week, but were outnumbered by an angry mob and could do nothing to prevent the grisly deaths. “We were helpless. We could not do anything,” Bougainville police inspector Herman Birengka told the paper, saying his officers were threatened when they tried to negotiate the women’s release. According to Birengka, who described the murders as “barbaric and senseless,” the women were taken captive on Tuesday last week by relatives of a former school teacher who died recently. “The two women were rounded up and taken to Lopele village after they were suspected of practicing sorcery and blamed for the death of the former teacher, who was from Lopele village,” he said. They were tortured for three days, suffering knife and axe wounds, before being beheaded in front of the police, who had been sent to the village to mediate, the report said. The killings come just days after another report that six women accused of sorcery were tortured with hot irons in an Easter “sacrifice” in the Southern Highlands.
Plane crash bodies found
Navy divers have recovered the bodies of a US wireless executive and his wife after the plane he was piloting crashed in the South Pacific. Eric Hertz, an experienced amateur pilot, radioed authorities on March 30 to say an engine had failed on the couple’s twin-engine Beechcraft Baron. He and his wife Kathy, a university employee, had left from an airport near Auckland bound for the South Island town of Timaru. Divers recovered a second body on Sunday after recovering the first on Saturday near Kawhia Harbor.
Bus plunge kills five
Five people died, including a seven-month-old baby and a Belgian woman, and 53 were injured when a tour bus plummeted off a hillside after its brakes failed, police said yesterday. Passengers said the bus had swerved several times on winding mountain roads, before it ploughed through a fence and down a steep ravine, according to police in Phitsanulok Province. “Five people were killed — two men and three women, including one woman from Belgium — and a seven-month-old baby boy,” district police Captain Sane Promrut told reporters by telephone. He said the bus, which was traveling from Udonthani Province to Chiang Mai, plunged about 20m in the early morning crash. Police said the dead Belgian was in her early twenties.
Death sentence upheld
An court yesterday upheld the death sentence handed down to a 56-year-old British grandmother found guilty of trafficking cocaine into Bali. A spokesman said the Bali High Court had confirmed the death sentence given to Lindsay Sandiford in January, which had been a shock verdict after prosecutors recommended 15 years imprisonment. The court “decided to uphold the decision of the district court,” said spokesman Makkasau, who like many Indonesians goes by one name. Police say she was at the center of a drugs importing ring involving three other Britons after a drugs haul worth US$2.4 million was found in her suitcase as she arrived on a flight from Bangkok in May last year. She can now appeal to the Supreme Court.