A court in Tanzania has sentenced four people to death for the murder of an albino woman who was killed so her hacked-off limbs could be used in magic, officials said Friday.
The sentencing comes after Tanzania’ 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”.
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.
“The prosecution has proved the case beyond reasonable doubt,” High Court judge Joaquine Demello told state radio after Thursday’s verdict.
She also told the Citizen newspaper the sentence had also taken into account “the escalating killing of people with albinism in the country”.
According to a UN expert, attacks on people with albinism have claimed the lives of at least 75 people since 2000, and that albino body parts sell for around $600, with an entire corpse fetching $75,000.
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.
Earlier this week Tanzania’s president met with albino rights activists, promising firm action to stop the murders.
“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 to an end these killings, which are disgusting and a big embarrassment to the nation,” Kikwete said in a statement.
Albinism is a hereditary genetic condition which 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.