Killers of Burundi albinos jailed
Gang sold body parts from murdered African albinos for use in witchcraft.
Last Modified: 23 Jul 2009 16:41 GMT
Witch doctors tell clients albinos' body parts bring luck in love, life and business

Five men have been jailed in Burundi for murdering African albinos and selling their body parts to witch doctors.

The leader of the gang was jailed for life at a court in Burundi's eastern Ruyigi province on Thursday after being found guilty of planning and carrying out the killings.

Four others were sentenced to between seven and 15 years in prison for attempted murder and kidnappping.

"There is one who was found guilty of planning and executing the crime, the three others attempted to kill and kidnap a woman and a child," Dodolin Nahamasabo, the head of the court, told the Reuters news agency.

"Another one was condemned for mutilation and participation in the association of criminals ... We decided to release three of them because we didn't find enough evidence," Nahamasabo said.

Mutilated bodies

Police believe parts of the bodies of 11 murdered and mutiliated albino men, women and children were smuggled across the border into Tanzania and sold to witch doctors, who claim albinos' flesh brings luck in love, life and business.

In depth

 Video: African albinos killed for body organs
 The 'genocide' of Burundi's albinos

The killings took place over a six-month period in Ruyigi in 2008.

Isaac Mwaura, from the Albino Society of Kenya, told Al Jazeera he thought the crimes were "an extension of greed".

"People are greedy to overcome their poverty and they do anything whatsoever, including killing their fellow human beings.

"Witchcraft has been practised for a very long time in Africa and it's just metamorphosed into our modern ways of life, so when richness is seen in terms of money and prosperity, people are going ahead.

He said: "If you look at witchcraft, before people were told to bring a white hen or a black cat.

"But now they ... think these don't work and use people with albinism."

Albinism is a congenital lack in the skin, eyes and hair of melanin pigment which protects against the sun's ultraviolet rays.

There are about 200 albinos in the small central African nation of eight million people.

Al Jazeera and agencies
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