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Last Updated: Monday, 9 May, 2005, 15:48 GMT 16:48 UK
Girl tortured 'for being a witch'
Sita Kisanga wearing orange headscarf
Sita Kisanga denies all the charges against her
An eight-year-old girl was tortured and about to be killed after being accused of being a witch, the Old Bailey heard.

The court was told the Angolan girl was put in a bag and was to be thrown into a river before the attack was stopped.

The child's aunt, 38, and Sita Kisanga, 35, both from London, deny conspiracy to murder and several counts of child cruelty dating from November 2003.

Sebastian Pinto, 33, and Kiwonde Kiese, 21, both of Stoke Newington, deny aiding and abetting child cruelty.

Slapped and cut

Charges against the four defendants allege that chilli peppers were rubbed into the girl's eyes, she was beaten with a belt, slapped, cut with a knife and starved.

Kiwonde Kiese arrives at court
Kiwonde Kiese denies aiding and abetting child cruelty

Prosecutor Patricia May said the victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was brought to Britain from Angola in 2002 by one of the defendants, who claimed she was her daughter.

The girl's father had died in the fighting in the African country's civil war and her mother was also feared dead.

Miss May said the victim and her aunt went to live with Ms Kisanga at the beginning of 2003, when her ill-treatment started after another child told them she had performed witchcraft.

This child was treated as a scapegoat by family members, tormented, subjected to all sorts of assaults
Prosecutor Patricia May

Miss May added: "That ill-treatment led to conduct which would, if it had not been stopped, led to fatal consequences."

She told the court the aunt and Ms Kisanga put the girl in a laundry bag, zipped it up and were about to throw it into the New River in Hackney, east London, until Mr Pinto stopped them.

Sebastian Pinto arrives at court
Sebastian Pinto denies aiding and abetting child cruelty

Miss May said Mr Pinto told them: "If they did and it was discovered, the law and the rights of children in this country being what they were, they would go to prison."

Ms Kisanga's home was searched and a number of documents were found relating to sin, the devil and witchcraft.

Diary evidence

Miss May said her diary, written in the African language of Lingala, was also examined.

She told the court: "One entry for 16 November 2003 stated, 'There was indeed a prophesy she has ndoki [the Lingala word for witchcraft]'."

Miss May said a handwriting analysis had suggested there was strong evidence that the words were written by Ms Kisanga.

Miss May added: "This child was treated as a scapegoat by family members, tormented, subjected to all sorts of assaults which must have caused her considerable pain, fear and distress.

"All the defendants to a greater or lesser degree, participated in that conduct."

The claims being made by the prosecution

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