Police in Sri Lanka say they have arrested two people in connection with the death of a 9-year-old girl who was repeatedly beaten during a ritual they believed would drive an evil spirit away.
The two suspects – the woman performing the exorcism and the girl’s mother – appeared in court on Monday to hear charges over the girl’s death, which occurred in Delgoda, a small town about 40km (25 miles) northeast of the capital, Colombo.
Keep readinglist of 4 items
The court ordered the suspects detained until March 12.
According to police spokesperson Ajith Rohana, the mother believed her daughter had been possessed by a demon and took her to the home of the exorcist so a ritual could be performed to drive the spirit away.
Rohana said the exorcist first put oil on the girl and then began to hit her repeatedly with a cane.
When the girl lost consciousness, she was taken to a hospital, where she died.
The woman who performed the ritual on the girl was known in the area for offering such services in recent months and police were investigating whether anyone else had been abused, Rohana said.
The police spokesperson also urged the public to be careful about such services as the girl was not the first to die during such a ritual.