15 February 2006 :an Indonesian court sentenced to death three men from an indigenous tribe on the remote Seram island, north of Maluku province, for ritual killings.
The three convicts, who did not speak Indonesian, were found guilty of killing two men in July 2005 during a tribal rite.
The three convicts, identified as Patti Sounawe, Nusy Sounawe and Sekeranane Soumorry, killed Bonefer Nuniary and Brusly Lekrane in Holoa village in Central Maluku regency.
In the ritual, the three condemned inmates were ordered together with three other tribe members -- Saniayu Sounawe, Tohonu Somory and Sumon Sounawe who got life sentences in the same case -- to bring back two human beings for a tribal ceremony.
In their hunt, the six people met Bonefer and Bursly, who were fishing at a nearby river. In line with the tribal provision, they were forced to kill the victims and take the heads, hearts, tongues and hands.
Defense lawyer Janes Manubun argued that due to the absence of explanation about legal aspects, members of the tribe were not aware of the consequences of killing someone.
"The government has never given them explanation about laws, so we had hoped that the verdict would be based on more equitable considerations," he said. Such rites have been conducted by the tribe on the island, some 2,800 km east of Jakarta, for centuries, especially during a change of tribal leadership. In 1994, two Masohi residents, who were hunting in the forests, were also mutilated by members of the Naulu tribe. Even for the marriage purposes, the groom must hand over a human head of someone from another tribe to the bride's family.