Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Christian leader who styled himself 'Black Jesus' convicted of raping young 'flower girls'
The Independent (UK)
Tari had thousands of village followers, including a core of armed warriors to protect him, in what is commonly referred to in PNG as a 'cargo cult'.
As part of his 'culture ministry' Tari preached the young girls were to be married to him as it was God's prophecy.
One woman told police that she was present when Tari killed her young daughter by slitting her throat after which he drank her blood.
Interviewed in Madang's Boen Prison a year later after his dramatic capture, Tari defended his practice in the black arts and of sleeping with young girls who joined his cult, admitting that 'I got plenty - 430 girls'.
But he added: 'What I did is under and in line with my religion. It was religious and was not wrong.'
But when Tari appeared before Judge David Cannings this week he was convicted on four rape charges.
He will be sentenced later this month and police said they expected him to receive a long term in jail.
Tari had gathered more than six thousand 'disciples' as he travelled through villages in jungle-clad mountains,.
He dressed in long white robes and stood on boulders declaring that he was the modern Jesus.
But when word spread that he had sacrificed three young women, drinking their blood and eating part of their flesh as part of his bizarre ceremonies, the devotion of his followers began to turn to fear.
Added to concerns were claims by the relatives of a mother who was said to have fallen under his spell and drank her own daughter's blood.
A Mail investigation in the remote villages of Papua New Guinea heard claims from relatives of 13-year-old Rita Hemen that she had been stripped naked, tied to a crude bed and raped by Tari before having her throat cut.
Her relatives said her blood had been drained into a coconut shell and drunk by Tari and his evil henchmen - and in a final horrific act they had eaten strips of her flesh.
Tari's wickedness came to an end when he reached the village of Matepi, where he was overpowered while sleeping in a hut.
A church pastor, Paul Makura, said it had been difficult for police to catch Tari as he never stayed long in one place.
'When he came here we heard that he had killed young women so we put a plan into action. We encouraged him to stay on and when he went to a hut to rest a group of eight villagers broke in, pounced on him and tied him up.'
Heavily armed police who made their way to Matepi found Tari tied to a tree. There was no sign of his bow-and-arrow-carrying bodyguards who, on a previous occasion, had engaged in a fight to the death with police.
Tari was still in possession of what he called his 'magic rod' - a knife - and a battered Bible, many of the teachings of which he had denied in his own sermons.
A spokesman for the Lutheran church, which is strongly represented in Papua New Guinea, said: 'We hope that the passage of time will erase memories of what this evil man has done.'