STOCKHOLM, May 15 – A Swedish appeals court on Tuesday jailed a couple from the Democratic Republic of Congo for having performed exorcisms on their daughter whom they considered to be a witch.
The couple were both found guilty of aggravated assault.
The father, 39, was sentenced to two years and three months behind bars, while his 34-year-old wife, who is the girl’s stepmother and who was judged to be the instigator of the abuse, was handed a two-and-a-half-year sentence.
The couple were also ordered to pay the girl damages of 12,000 euros ($15,500). Her age was not disclosed but according to the local newspaper Boraas Tidning, she is around 10 and the events took place in 2010.
The girl told the court she had been repeatedly targeted in exorcism sessions, had her arm cut with a burning knife to get her to confess her sins and had her head shaved because “the spirit” was in her hair.
A second man, aged 40 and who claims to be a pastor, was also given an 15-month jail sentence for assault and ordered to pay the girl 2,300 euros in damages.
The father had said the alleged pastor “had the power of God” and her stepmother had often urged the girl to “shower with water and oil, in the blood of Jesus, to become clean,” the victim told the court.
She said she was subjected to moral harassment, and was required to take part in prayers day and night which prevented her from attending school.
The prosecution’s case was based primarily on the victim’s testimony, which the court found “reliable and credible.”
Her foster family, social services and school officials said they had no reason to doubt the girl’s version of events.
“There is nothing to lead us to believe that she would have a reason to lie,” the court said in its ruling.
“I’m very satisfied,” Boraas prosecutor Daniel Larson said in a statement. He had appealed a lower court’s ruling acquitting the three.
In January, another couple from the Democratic Republic of Congo also living in Boraas was charged with assault for trying to perform exorcism on their daughter.