Page last updated at 14:13 GMT, Thursday, 24 September 2009 15:13 UK

Albino killers 'should be hanged'

A mother with an albino child.
Albino people live in fear in Tanzania and Burundi

The Tanzania Albino Society (Tas) has called for the men found guilty of killing an albino boy to be hanged publicly as a warning to others.

A court sentenced them to death for attacking the boy and severing his legs for use in witchdoctors' potions.

The BBC's John Ngahyoma in Dar es Salaam says there are more than 100 people on death row, but no-one has been executed in more than 15 years.

But Tas chairman Ernest Kimaya urged the president to endorse the sentence.

"I want other perpetrators to learn - seeing is believing," he told the BBC.

Mr Kimaya told Tanzania's Citizen newspaper that a public execution would also "show that the government is serious in its war on albino killers".

In the past two years, 53 albino people have been murdered in Tanzania.

Albino people, who lack pigment in their skin and appear pale, are killed because potions made from their body parts are believed to bring good luck and wealth.

The Tanzanian government has publicly stated its desire to end the killings.

In March, President Jakaya Kikwete called on Tanzanians to come forward with any information they might have.

Reprisal fears

Officials banned witchdoctors from practising, however many have continued to work.

Tanzania map

Many of Tanzania's estimated 17,000 albino people are now living in fear, especially in villages in the north-west where the majority of the murders have occurred.

The case in Kahama on Wednesday was the first conviction in Tanzania for an albino killing.

Correspondents say there is also a fear of reprisal killings as witchdoctors and their clients wield a lot of power in their communities.

Witchdoctors in Tanzania and other parts of East Africa have made tens of thousands of dollars from selling potions and other items made from the bones, hair, skin and genitals of dead albino people.

They pay a lot of money for body parts.

In July a court in neighbouring Burundi sentenced one person to life in prison and eight others to jail for the murder of albino people whose remains were sold in Tanzania.

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