Police have charged a New Zealand man with five counts of murder following the mysterious "witchcraft" deaths of a Fijian family last month.
Husband and wife Nirmal Kumar, 63, and Usha Devi, 54, their daughter Nileshni Kajal, 34, and Ms Kajal's daughters Sana, 11, and Samara, eight, were all found dead in the Nausori Highlands last month.
According to reports and police testimony, Ms Kajal’s one-year-old niece was found alive among the bodies.
Muhammad Raheesh Isoof, 62, a bus driver and “witch doctor” from Christchurch, was due to face a Fijian court on Monday on five counts of murder, news.com.au reported.
Mr Isoof and his wife lived next door to the married couple for many years in Fiji before emigrating to New Zealand to live in Linwood, a suburb of Christchurch.
The couple returned to Fiji for a holiday in August, and reportedly met with the family prior to their deaths.
Mr Isoof was locally known as “Kamal” according to Mr Kumar’s brother, Raj Kumar, and had been treating Ms Devi for abdominal pains for many years.
Police took an application to a local court to detain Mr Isoof and his wife for longer than the 48 hours permissible under Fijian law, but failed.
However the same report said a “stop departure order” which would prevent the pair from leaving Fiji had been put in place.
With no visible injuries present on the bodies of the five family members, police suspected poisoning as their cause of death from the beginning.
The father of the two dead children told the Fiji Sun that his father-in-law, also among the deceased, was interested in witchcraft.
“I never saw anyone or any family so much into witchcraft than my in-laws,” he said.
“I used to see my in-laws and other witchdoctors making a doll from dough and poking needles in it. I always took my daughters away into the bedroom.
“My wife and daughters were obviously also dragged into it.”
On Monday, three weeks after the bodies were found and after the ordering of toxicology reports, police laid charges.
The child found at the scene, referred to in Fijian media as the “miracle baby”, has since been released from hospital.
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