By Calvin Palmer
A court in French Guyana today handed out prison sentences to four members of the Celestial Church of Christ for performing an exorcism on an epileptic boy found dead attached to a cross.
Roger Bosse, 15, was tortured for three days by church members, who slapped him, beat him with reeds and straps and he was attached to a cross for the final two nights before his death.
His mother, who suffered from mental illness, approached church members at the end of 2004 and asked them to get treatment for her son whom she considered “possessed by the devil”.
The church members decided to exorcise the boy.
He was found dead, gagged and still attached to the cross by the head of the parish, Maurice Sainte-Pierre.
An autopsy revealed multiple bruises, a large hematoma over one eye and blows to the head. The coroner concluded that he could have been suffocated.
Sainte-Pierre was sentenced to 12 years in prison, while the others were handed down sentences of nine, seven and three years, including two with suspended sentences.
Their lawyer said he would appeal the court decision.
The Celestial Church of Christ was founded in the west African state of Benin in 1947, and claims millions of followers worldwide.
[Based on a report by Radio France Internationale.]