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Last Updated: Friday, 8 July, 2005, 15:19 GMT 16:19 UK
Witchcraft torture three jailed
Sebastian Pinto (r) and Sita Kisanga
Pinto and Kisanga were jailed for aiding child cruelty
Three people have been jailed for between four and 10 years over the torture of an eight-year-old girl they accused of being a witch.

The Old Bailey trial heard the girl was beaten, cut with a knife and had chilli peppers rubbed in her eyes at a flat in Hackney, east London, in 2003.

Her aunt, who cannot be named, was jailed for 10 years for child cruelty.

Sita Kisanga and Sebastian Pinto, found guilty of helping her, were sentenced to 10 and four years respectively.

The judge, Christopher Moss, said they had mounted a "campaign of cruelty that amounted to a campaign of torture".

Laundry bag

"It is the very pinnacle of cruelty to a child that demands the maximum sentence," he added.

The court heard the orphan was beaten until she was made to admit she had been practising witchcraft and is still traumatised by the experience.

The girl told how Kisanga cornered her in the kitchen and told her "today you die".

She was put in a laundry bag and told she would be thrown into a river to drown.

"In my mind, I will never forget what happened," the girl said.

When she was found by police officers she told them she had been surviving on tea and bread.

Any religious practice or belief that harms children cannot be justified or excused
Bishop Dr Joe Aldred

The girl's 40-year-old aunt, who had brought her to England from Africa in 2002, was convicted of four charges of cruelty.

Her cousin, Sita Kisanga, 35, of Hackney, east London, was found guilty of three charges of aiding and abetting child cruelty.

Both were cleared of conspiring to murder the girl.

Kisanga's brother Sebastian Pinto, 33, of Stoke Newington, north London, was found guilty of one charge of aiding and abetting.

Bishop Dr Joe Aldred, chair of the Council of Black-led Churches in Birmingham, said: "The African faith community has been horrified by this case of child abuse.

"Any religious practice or belief that harms children cannot be justified or excused."




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