LILONGWE, Malawi (AFP) — A Malawi Catholic priest, a policeman and hospital worker are among a dozen convicted over the 2018 gruesome murder of a man with albinism, a court official said Friday.
Five out of the 12 were found guilty of killing MacDonald Masambuka, 22, at the height of a crime spree that saw over 40 murders and 145 assaults on people with the condition in the country.
The priest, Masambuka’s brother, a policeman and hospital employee were convicted of transacting in human body parts.
“MacDonald was betrayed by those he had trust in, namely the brother, the priest, the policeman and the clinical officer. These are positions of trust,” the country’s public prosecutions director Steve Kayuni told AFP.
From 2014 Malawi suffered a wave of assaults over several years against albinos whose body parts are used in witchcraft rituals in the mistaken belief that they bring wealth and luck.
In a judgement handed down Thursday, a high court concluded that the 12 plotted to kill Masambuka to extract his bones, hoping to benefit financially.
“This is a violation of the right to human life and the greatest violation of the rights to life and integrity for persons with albinism,” said judge Dorothy NyaKaunda Kamanga.
Masambuka was murdered after being enticed by his brother to meet his friends who he claimed had found him a woman to marry.
Sentencing has been set for May 31.
There are around 20 cases under prosecution in Malawi courts involving the murder, attempted murder, exhumation and selling of body tissue of people with albinism, said Kayuni.
Activist and former UN rapporteur on albinism, Ikponwosa Ero, said the latest case “points to a serious safety issue for people with albinism in Malawi”.
© Agence France-Presse