UK police appeal for new info on boy's ritual killing

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Sep 21 2021 09:16 PM

UK police on Tuesday appealed for fresh information two decades after the torso of a young boy believed to have been killed as a human sacrifice was found in the River Thames.

The boy's headless and limbless body was found in the London part of the river clad in orange shorts on September 21, 2001. 

He is thought to have been aged between four and seven.

His throat had been cut and his head and limbs cut off. Police believe the boy was trafficked from Africa and killed in a ritualistic ceremony.

On Tuesday, London's Metropolitan Police asked those who may have knowledge of the case to be "bold", suggesting they may no longer be bound by former allegiances.

During the initial investigation, detectives used bone samples to identify the boy as coming from Nigeria and said he died from violent trauma to the neck. 

While seeking his true identity, they gave him the operational name of "Adam".

They even flew out to consult South Africa's occult crimes unit, and issued a worldwide appeal through the country's then-president Nelson Mandela.

In South African "muti" killings, witch doctors use the victim's body parts for black magic potions.

- 'Sad and frustrating' -

UK police also travelled to Nigeria, where belief in witchcraft, known locally as "juju", remains strong in the mainly Christian southwest, and in neighboring Benin.

Some juju rituals involve the use of human body parts and every year there are several cases of murder or kidnappings thought to be linked to the beliefs.

"It is incredibly sad and frustrating that Adam's murder remains unsolved," said Detective Chief Inspector Kate Kieran.

"This young boy has not and will not be forgotten. He deserved better and we will not give up on him."

Police have previously detained three people in the long-running case but released them all without charge.

- Trafficking concerns -

British police are reported to have recorded scores of cases over the past decade of children who have faced torture and abuse as part of witchcraft rituals.

Such cases first came into the public eye when eight-year-old Victoria Climbie -- born in Ivory Coast -- was killed in 2000 in London by relatives who said she was a witch.

They were jailed for life.

The British government launched a campaign against faith-based child abuse in 2012, saying there was a need to take a stand, working with African migrant associations.

In 2014, the United Nations said it was concerned at reports that hundreds of children had been abducted in Africa and trafficked to the UK, especially London, for religious rituals.

"The number of convictions is extremely low," Kristen Sandberg, then-head of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, was quoted as saying at the time.

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