Ramu’s 97 sentenced

The number of prisoners in the country on death row have increased to 20, following the sentence of 8 people in Madang on Tuesday, to life in prison.

The eight given life sentence were part of those 97 convicted earlier over the massacre of seven, including two children in Sakiko village, near Ramu, on April 14 2014.

The number of prisoners on death row in the country, have increased to 20, after eight from Ramu were sentenced on Tuesday at the Madang National court.

Justice David Cannings sentenced the eight to death in what is the country’s biggest trial against 97 men.

The 8 given death sentences were direct involved in the wilful murder of seven men, including two boys, aged five and three years old, on April 14 2014.

88 from that group were sentenced to life in prison.

They were part of a group of offenders, who marched to Sakiko, armed with bush knives, with the intension of attacking and killing sorcerers, in the belief of cleansing the community.

Some suspected sorcerers had taken residence at Sakiko, and on their way to the village, the group attacked and killed bystanders, starting with a 35 year old man from Jiwaka who was on his way to work at Ramu Sugar.

Their victims were hacked to death. A 70 year old man was killed and thrown inside his house, which was later set alight.

They then proceeded to raid the village, destroying properties along the way, including houses and food gardens.

In sentencing them, Justice Cannings said there was no evidence against any of targeted victims as a suspected sorcerer. He also said there was no proven connection or justification between the belief in sorcery and what actually happened. 

Those sentenced are aged 18 to 35, from various villages within the Naho-Rawa LLG.

Attempts were made for peace and reconciliation between the offenders with compensation amounts of K56, 000 and K36,000 given to families of the deceased in the presence of the Rai Coast MP, Peter Sapia in May.

Sally Pokiton