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Woman, 25, stripped naked and burnt alive by 'pastor and congregation' who accused her of being possessed





Woman, 25, stripped naked and burnt alive by 'pastor and congregation' who accused her of being possessed Woman, 25, stripped naked and burnt alive by 'pastor and congregation' who accused her of being possessed

A church minister and four members of his congregation have been arrested after a 25-year-old woman allegedly pushed onto a bonfire because she was ‘possessed’ by the devil.

Mum-of-two Vilma Trujillo Garcia, 25, died on Tuesday - five days after being rushed to hospital in the Nicaraguan capital Managua with first degree burns over 80% of her body.

The five suspects , including 23-year-old church minister Juan Gregorio Rocha Romero, were held after Vilma’s grieving husband Reynaldo Peralta claimed she had been stripped naked and tied up next to the bonfire before being pushed on top of it.

The disturbing incident happened in the rural community of El Cortezal in north-eastern Nicaragua.

Mr Rocha Romero, a pastor at the Assemblies of God Church, is claiming the dead woman threw herself on the flames to rid herself of “bad spirits” inside her.

He told a local paper: “God told her he was going to remove that bad spirit from her and asked us to start a fire because that’s where the spirit was going to be expelled.”

Insisting no-one had touched Vilma, he added: “We were praying when we looked at her and saw she was on fire.”

But one of the four alleged accomplices - Eneyda del Socorro Orozco Tellez - is said to have told investigators during questioning: “God made a revelation to me.

"He told me to make a bonfire in the church patio and said we should take Vilma and tie up next to the flames and pray so that the devil left her sick body and threw itself on the fire.”

Daily newspaper La Prensa said a police report on the tragedy had concluded the church minister had ordered worshippers to gather up fire wood and start praying for her before his alleged accomplices threw her onto the flames.

Another of the five detainees, Franklin Jarquin Hernandez, told the paper Vilma had been possessed by a ‘bad spirit’ after committing adultery.

He added: “She had her life companion and committed an error with another man and she was claiming to be a Christian and fasting and I’m sure God punished her in that way and she became possessed by the devil.

“It was a bad spirit that pushed her and she fell on the fire.”

Vilma, mum to a boy aged five and a girl aged two, died around 4.30am local time on Tuesday at Antonio Lenin Fonseca Hospital in Managua after five days in an intensive care unit there.

Her husband, speaking shortly before her death, said: “My wife spent eight days prisoner in that congregation and her sister told me that to burn her, they got some fire wood together and then they pushed her naked on the flames.

“She’s got burns on her face, legs and arms and her kidneys and liver have been badly damaged.

“The doctors have told me 80% of her body is affected and they don’t think she’ll pull through.

“I don’t think my wife was possessed at all. What they did to her was witchcraft.”

Claiming she had been raped rather than committing adultery, he added: “I went to confront the man I was told was responsible but had to leave him alone because he was carrying a rifle.”

Disturbing pictures showed Vilma being transferred to hospital with bandages on her face after being rescued barely alive.

The five suspects, branded members of a religious sect by other church leaders, are expected to be formally charged in the coming days after being transferred to Managua by police.

Police said they were treating the case as murder.

A police spokesman, naming the three male and two female suspects aged 23 to 28 at a press conference, said initial investigations pointed to Vilma being kept prisoner in the church from February 15 and thrown on the bonfire earlier than first thought, meaning she may not have received immediate hospital attention.


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