BERLIN – Five South Koreans were arrested in Germany on suspicion of murder following the death of a relative in an exorcism ritual attempting to "expel a demon," authorities said Thursday. Here's a look at some other fatalities from rituals performed around the world in recent years in the belief they would drive the devil or other evil spirits from people.
UNITED STATES: In January, a 22-year-old Maryland woman pleaded guilty to murder and agreed to be admitted to psychiatric care after admitting that she performed what she thought was an exorcism on two children in an effort to drive demons out of them, but instead killed them. According to prosecutors, the 18-month-old and his 2-year-old sister were choked and repeatedly stabbed with a serrated knife. The children's mother was also charged and her case is still pending.
MALAYSIA: In 2012, a 3-year-old girl was killed in Malaysia's northern Penang state by her parents and other relatives in an exorcism ritual, officials said. Police called to their house found the girl under a pile of eight adults in a bedroom, suffocated to death. Authorities said the room was dark and chanting could be heard from under a blanket covering the group as they arrived on the scene.
AUSTRALIA: Four people were convicted in 2011 of beating a woman to death with sticks on a remote Australian island in what they claimed was part of an exorcism meant to cleanse her of the devil. According to testimony, the woman was forced to sit on the ground while a circle of fire was lit around her and then she was hit with sticks with extreme force more than two dozen times. The judge hearing the case rejected the perpetrators' claim they believed they were performing an exorcism, saying that the victim was attacked to be caused pain and humiliation.
GUYANA: A 14-year-old girl in a Guyanese farming village who was suffering from convulsions died in 2010 after a local pastor tried to treat her ailment with an exorcism at a church. Witnesses told local media the pastor and helpers rubbed or pounded on the girl's stomach and had her drink lime juice after convincing the family she was suffering from demonic possession. She was finally taken to a hospital, where she died.
ROMANIA: A priest was sentenced in 2008 to seven years in prison in Romania for murdering a young nun during an exorcism ritual where she was bound, chained to a cross and denied food and water for seven days. The 23-year-old nun died from dehydration, exhaustion and suffocation after the 2005 exorcism attempt. In addition to his jail sentence, the priest was defrocked and the Orthodox Church promised reforms and psychological tests to screen potential clergy. Four nuns who were involved were excommunicated and also received jail sentences.
Associated Press News Researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this report.