A pastor and four members of his congregation have been arrested in Nicaragua after a mother accused of being 'possessed' by the devil was allegedly pushed into a bonfire before dying.
Vilma Trujillo Garcia, who was 25, died on Tuesday, five days after being rushed to hospital in the Nicaraguan capital Managua with first degree burns over 80 per cent of her body, the Mirror reported.
The five suspects include a 23-year-old church minister, Juan Gregorio Rocha Romero. The suspects were held after Vilma's grieving husband Reynaldo Peralta claimed she had been stripped naked and tied up next to the bonfire before being pushed on top of it.
The incident happened in the rural community of El Cortezal in north-eastern Nicaragua.
Rocha Romero, a pastor at the Assemblies of God Church, is claiming that the woman threw herself on the fire to rid herself of 'bad spirits' inside her.
'God told her he was going to remove that bad spirit from her and asked us to start a fire because that's where the spirit was going to be expelled,' the pastor told a local paper.
He insisted that no-one had touched Vilma, and added: 'We were praying when we looked at her and saw she was on fire.'
However, one of the four alleged accomplices, Eneyda del Socorro Orozco Tellez, is reported to have told investigators during questioning: 'God made a revelation to me. He told me to make a bonfire in the church patio and said we should take Vilma and tie up next to the flames and pray so that the devil left her sick body and threw itself on the fire.'
According to the daily newspaper La Prensa, a police report on the tragedy had concluded that the pastor had ordered worshippers to gather up firewood and start praying for her before his alleged accomplices threw her onto the flames.
Franklin Jarquin Hernandez, another of the detainees, told the paper that Vilma had been possessed by a 'bad spirit' after committing adultery.
'She had her life companion and committed an error with another man and she was claiming to be a Christian and fasting and I'm sure God punished her in that way and she became possessed by the devil,' he said.
'It was a bad spirit that pushed her and she fell on the fire.'
Vilma, who was the mother of a boy aged five and a girl aged two, died at around 4.30am local time on Tuesday at Antonio Lenin Fonseca Hospital in Managua after five days in intensive care.
Her husband, speaking shortly before Vilma's death, said: 'My wife spent eight days prisoner in that congregation and her sister told me that to burn her, they got some firewood together and then they pushed her naked on the flames.
'She's got burns on her face, legs and arms and her kidneys and liver have been badly damaged.The doctors have told me 80 per cent of her body is affected and they don't think she'll pull through. I don't think my wife was possessed at all. What they did to her was witchcraft.'
The husband claimed that, far from committing adultery, Vilma had instead been raped, adding: 'I went to confront the man I was told was responsible but had to leave him alone because he was carrying a rifle.'
Disturbing pictures showed Vilma being transferred to hospital with bandages on her face after being retrieved from the fire while barely alive.
The five suspects are expected to be formally charged in the coming days after being transferred to Managua by police, who said they were treating the case as murder.
A police spokesman has named the three male and two female suspects aged 23 to 28 at a press conference.