Gerald Herbert/AP
Tanzania's President Jakaya Kikwete

Trial of Albino Body Part Snatchers Begins

May 29, 2009 07:30 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Testimony has started in the Burundi trial involving Albino body parts, a promising result of the Tanzanian president’s call for his people’s help in the matter.

Murder Charges Dropped

According to BBC news reports, witnesses have begun testifying in the case of 11 men from Burundi charged with selling albino people's body parts, which police suspect are being sold in Tanzania for witchcraft purposes. Initial murder charges against the defendants were dropped for lack of evidence. A "crammed" Burundi courtroom is hosting the trial, in which eight of the defendants are alleged to have trafficked body parts and dug up buried parts in a graveyard.

According to the BBC, regional witchdoctors often tell patients that "potions made with albino body parts will bring them luck in love, life and business."

The BBC reported in March that President Jakaya Kikwete asked Tanzanians to help end the slaughter of albinos in their country by completing anonymous forms with information on those suspected of involvement.

"But some fear the nationwide exercise, which has begun in the Lake Zone area, could be used for personal vendettas," the BBC reported. To date, 46 albinos have been killed in Tanzania over the past 18 months, according to the BBC.

Background: African albinos increasingly under attack for body parts

The East African reports that witches in Tanzania have help in neighboring Burundi, considered the poorest country in the world by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Albinos are kidnapped in Burundi and taken across the border to Tanzania to be killed.

Practitioners of witchcraft in Tanzania believe that albinos have mystical powers that can be transferred through potions made from their body parts, according to The East African. As a result, Tanzania has had several attacks against albinos since 2007, including attacks on two mothers by machete-wielding gang members who were after their albino children.

Local businessmen have donated more than 350 mobile phones to the police effort to put an end to the killing of albinos, findingDulcinea reported in January. According to an ABC News article in March, 90 suspects have been arrested in recent months, four of whom were policemen.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have denounced the attacks, The East African reported in March.

Related Topic: Albinos in pop culture

Reference: The National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation


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