05-16-2005, 06:55 AM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Region: New Jersey
Police arrest two suspected human skinners
DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) - Tanzanian police arrested two men accused of killing a 9-year-old boy and selling his skin for 20,000 shillings ($18) to make sorcerers' get-rich-quick charms, a senior officer said Friday.
Police said they arrested Martin Kalunga, 25, and his associate Nico Benson, 31, in Lilwa village in southern Tanzania Tuesday after neighbors overheard Benson accusing Kalunga of plotting with their buyer to skin him as well.
The identity of the buyer was unclear.
"The two were arrested after they had a loud quarrel, because Benson suspected Martin of colluding with their buyer to skin him," Suleiman Kova, police commander for the southern Mbeya region, told Reuters.
"During interrogation, Martin confessed that they were both skinners and that they had skinned a boy in Mbozi six months ago. They then threw his body into the river Jianga," Kova said.
"These cases are few but are very shocking," he said.
Kova said police expected to charge the pair once they had completed investigations into the identity of the victim, whose remains have not been found.
He said he was not aware of any report of a missing child that would match the description given by the suspects, but police were still making inquiries.
Human skins are used by witch doctors to make charms or potions designed to make their users rich, especially in southern Tanzania, renowned as a center for traditional sorcery.
Police say the once rampant practice has decreased significantly in recent years due to tougher action by the authorities, describing this as the first suspected skinning case in southern Tanzania since April 2004.
Kova said there were three reported cases of skinning in 2003 and 14 suspects have been arrested since April last year in relation to various skinning cases, although providing evidence of skin removal is often difficult.
"We have to find a body and do a post mortem to have a good case," Kova said.
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Modified 2004 V6