Catholic priest arrested over killing of albino man in Malawi

A Catholic priest in Malawi has been arrested in connection with the abduction and murder of a man with albinism.

The body parts of albinos are used in traditional medicines by witch doctors and children are particularly at risk.

Fr Thomas Muhosha has been arrested in connection with the killing of an albino man.

A police officer and a clinician at Machinga District Hospital are also under arrest, according to the Nyasa Times.

The body of McDonald Masambuka, 22, was found on April 1. The priest is Fr Thomas Muhosha.

The bishop of Zomba, George Desmond Tambala, said he was shocked at the arrest.

'The Catholic Diocese of Zomba has learnt with profound shock and shame the allegations against Reverend Father Thomas Muhosha, a priest of our diocese linking him to the killing of albino, McDonald Masambuka,' he said.

'In recent times, as a diocese we have spoken out against the abduction and killing of persons with albinism. It is with much sadness that we have learned of these allegations against a priest of our diocese,' the bishop said.

Muhosha has been suspended pending the outcome of the case.  

Malawi's President Peter Mutharika said the government had made progress towards stopping attacks on albinos. 'The public should be assured that government will dig deep into Masambuka's abduction and murder to ensure that all suspects in the matter, regardless of their social status, are swiftly brought to book,' he said.

However, 22 people with albinism have been killed in the country since 2014 and nine have been abducted this year, said the Nyasa Times.

The persecution of people with albinism is a feature of countries in the Great Lakes area of Africa. While it is a rare condition, the largest African albino population is in Tanzania, where children with the condition are often unwanted and become victims of infanticide. There has been an upsurge in the killing of people with albinism in Malawi since Tanzania, its neighbour, imposed tough penalties for trading in body parts.