Burned to death: Ama Hemmah was allegedly killed when a group accused her of being a witch, doused her in kerosene and set her alight in Ghana
Witch: The suspects deny killing Mrs Hemmah, claiming that they were praying to exorcise the evil spirit from the dying woman, when the anointing oil they had applied to her body caught fire at Tema Site 15
A grandmother has allegedly been tortured and burned to death by a five-strong group - one of whom is believed to be an evangelical pastor - who accused her of being a witch.
Ama Hemmah, 72, suffered the horrific injuries when she was set upon by the mob, who claimed that she admitted to being a witch before drenching her in kerosene and setting her alight.
Mrs Hemmah, who was from the port city of Tema, near the Ghanaian capital, Accra, was burned alive in nearby Tema Site 15.
She was rushed to Tema General Hospital but died within 24 hours and five people have been arrested in connection with her death.
Newspaper pictures showing the woman's injuries have caused revulsion in Ghana, and the incident has been condemned by human rights and women's activists.
The suspects deny the crime and claim that they were praying to exorcise the evil spirit from the dying woman, when the anointing oil they had applied to her body caught fire.
The suspects are Samuel Ghunney, a 50-year-old photographer, Pastor Samuel Fletcher Sagoe, 55, and Emelia Opoku, 37, Nancy Nana Ama Akrofie, 46, and Mary Sagoe, 52, who are all unemployed.
The policeman leading the case, Mr Augustine Gyening, reported that on the morning of November 20 Mr Sagoe visited his sister, Emelia, at Tema Site 15 and saw Mrs Hemmah sitting in his sister’s bedroom at a time when she had sent her children to school.
Mr Gyening said Mr Samuel then raised an alarm, attracting the attention of Mr Ghunney and some people in the neighbourhood.
According to the police commander, the suspects claimed that Mrs Hemmah was a known witch in the area and subjected her to severe torture, compelling her to confess to being a witch.
He said after extracting the confession, Mr Ghunney asked Emelia for a gallon of kerosene and with the help of his accomplices, poured it all over the woman and set her ablaze.
Mr Gyening said a student-nurse, Deborah Pearl Adumoah, who chanced upon the barbaric act, rescued Mr Hemmah and sent her to the Community One Police Station, from where she was transferred to the Tema General Hospital, but she died the following day.
In their caution statement, the suspects denied the offence and explained that they poured anointing oil on the old woman which caught fire when they offered prayers to exorcise the demon from her.
The docket has since been sent to the Attorney-General’s Department for advice, while the body of the deceased has been deposited at the Police Hospital mortuary for autopsy.
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