ASUNCION, Paraguay – An indigenous woman was burned alive in Paraguay after being accused of witchcraft, a local prosecutor confirmed Wednesday.
Prosecutor Fany Aguilera said that members of the Mbya Guarani ethnic group tied 45-year-old Adolfina Ocampos to a wooden pole and shot arrows at her before they burned her alive. Ocampos was sentenced to death last week by the community's chief in Tahehyi, a village some 180 miles north of the capital, Asuncion. The date of the killing was unclear.
Aguilera has charged nine men in the village with first-degree murder, and they have already acknowledged killing the woman.
A report by the UN Refugee Agency estimates that thousands of people worldwide are accused of being witches every year. The UN says they are often abused, cast out of their families and communities and sometimes killed.
But the case here is unusual.
"I've been working in Paraguay for 40 years and I can't remember a similar episode of an execution for alleged sorcery," said Jose Zanardini, an Italian anthropologist and Catholic priest. "The tragic death of this woman is isolated and out of the ordinary within the coexistence of Paraguay's 20 ethnic indigenous groups. In general, the Indians are very peaceful and tolerant."
The state agency for the protection of indigenous peoples said in a statement Wednesday that "although the indigenous communities are ruled by customary law, their acts cannot violate the constitutional rights of respecting the life and the liberty of people."