July 23, 2009 / 1:55 PM / 11 years ago

Burundi court convicts five over albino killings

A Tanzania Red Cross Society (TRCS) volunteer holds the hand of an albino toddler at a picnic organised by the TRCS in the west of the country near the town of Kigoma on Lake Tanganyika June 5, 2009. REUTERS/Alex Wynter/IFRC/Handout/Files

BUJUMBURA (Reuters) - Burundi has condemned one person to life in prison and four others to jail sentences for murdering albinos and selling their body parts for use in witchcraft, a court said on Thursday.

The tiny central African nation of eight million people has around 200 albinos — who lack pigment in their skin, eyes and hair — and eleven have been killed in the last year.

Witchdoctors say albino body parts bring luck in love, life and business.

“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, head of the court in the eastern Ruyigi province, told Reuters by telephone.

The three received 15 years each in jail, he said.

“Another one was condemned for mutilation and participation in the association of criminals (who got seven years in prison) ... We decided to release three of them because we didn’t find enough evidence,” he said.

Burundi’s Albino Association declined to comment.

Many African societies shun albinos and treat them as if they bring misfortune or accuse them of being involved in witchcraft.

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