Killers of albino woman given the death penalty

ARUSHA — A court in Tanzania has sentenced four people to death for the murder of an albino woman who was killed so her limbs could be used in magic, officials said Friday.

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Picture: THINKSTOCK

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The sentencing comes after Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete blasted the wave of killings of albinos, whose body parts are used for witchcraft, as a “disgusting and big embarrassment for the nation”.

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The killers who were convicted include Charles Nassoro, the husband of the murdered woman. Court officials in Mwanza, northwest Tanzania, said the victim had her legs and right hand hacked off with an axe and machete after being attacked while eating dinner in her village.

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“The prosecution has proved the case beyond reasonable doubt,” High court judge Joaquine Demello told state radio after Thursday’s verdict.

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She told the Citizen newspaper the sentence had also taken into account “the escalating killing of people with albinism in the country”.

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According to a United Nations (UN) expert, attacks on people with albinism have claimed the lives of at least 75 people since 2000, with albino body parts selling for about $600 and an entire corpse fetching $75,000.

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Despite the handing down of the death penalty, Tanzania has had a de facto moratorium on capital punishment and carried out its last execution, by hanging, in 1994. There are currently 17 people on death row in the country for killing albinos.

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Earlier this week Tanzania’s president met albino rights activists, promising firm action to stop the murders.

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“The government has long tried to do everything possible to stop the killings, we are very serious with this. But we still need to enhance our efforts to bring … an end (to) these killings, which are disgusting and a big embarrassment to the nation,” Mr Kikwete said in a statement.

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Albinism is a hereditary genetic condition that causes a total absence of pigmentation in the skin, hair and eyes. It affects one Tanzanian in 1,400, often as a result of inbreeding, experts say. In the West, it affects just one person in 20,000.

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AFP