Page last updated at 05:58 GMT, Friday, 19 June 2009 06:58 UK

US girl 'burnt in voodoo ritual'

New York prosecutors have charged a woman with setting alight her six-year-old daughter in a voodoo rite that left the child with life-threatening burns.

Lawyers say Marie Lauradin, 29, sent her daughter to bed after the ritual with serious burns on 25% of her body.

The girl was taken to hospital the next day, where doctors put her into a drug-induced coma. She has since been placed in foster care.

Ms Lauradin denies charges of assault and endangering the welfare of a child.

Defence lawyer Jeff Cohen said the girl was Ms Lauradin's only child and she would not have hurt her.

Prosecutors say she poured rum over the child during a Haitian voodoo practice known as Loa.

"The child's mother is alleged to have intentionally poured an accelerant over her young daughter's body, causing her to be engulfed in flames," said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

If convicted, Ms Lauradin faces up to 25 years in jail.

The girl's grandmother is also alleged to have taken part in the ritual and faces a separate trial.

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