Catholic priest among 12 convicted of albino murder in Malawi

A Catholic priest from Malawi, a policeman and a hospital worker are among a dozen convicted of the gruesome 2018 murder of a man with albinism, a court officer said Friday.

Five of the 12 were found guilty of killing MacDonald Masambuka, 22, at the height of a criminal spree that saw more than 40 murders and 145 assaults on people with this condition in Malawi.

The priest, Masambuka’s brother, a policeman and a hospital employee were convicted of trafficking in human body parts.

“MacDonald was betrayed by those he trusted, namely his brother, the priest, the policeman and the clinical officer. These are positions of trust, “Malawi prosecutor Steve Kayuni told AFP on Friday.

Since 2014, Malawi has experienced a wave of assaults for several years against albinos whose body parts are used in witchcraft rituals under the mistaken belief that they bring wealth and luck.

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In a sentence handed down in the country Thursday, a high court concluded that the 12 plotted to kill Masambuka to extract his bones, hoping to gain financial benefit.

“This is a violation of the right to human life and the greatest violation of the rights to life and integrity for people with albinism,” said Judge Dorothy NyaKaunda Kamanga.

Masambuka was murdered after being induced by his brother to meet his friends who, according to him, had found him a woman to marry.

The sentence was set for May 31st.

There are about 20 cases pending in Malawi’s courts involving murder, attempted murder, exhumation and sale of body tissue of people with albinism, Kayuni said.

Activist and former UN rapporteur on albinism, Ikponwosa Ero, said the latest case “indicates a serious security problem for people with albinism in Malawi”.