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Purported Expert on Senegalese Spells Is Barred from Testifying in Murder Trial

Posted Oct 12, 2012 5:30 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A purported expert on Senegalese spells and curses won’t be allowed to testify in the trial of a murder defendant who claimed he was influenced by evil spirits.

Judge Juan Merchan of Manhattan found that the defense had failed to prove the witness, Cheikh Ndao, had expertise in witchcraft, the New York Times reports. The testimony was offered on behalf of Bakary Camara, who claimed he was under the influence of evil spirits when his girlfriend was murdered.

Cheikh Ndao testified that he offers prayer, rather than spells or curses, to help those in need, the story says. An imam since 1998, Ndao offered an example. In one case, he said, he helped a woman who said she could not get pregnant because of a curse. He wrote verses from the Koran onto a piece of paper, soaked the paper in water, then told the woman to drink the water. She later became pregnant.

Says the Times, “New York’s criminal courtrooms have seen firearms analysts, botanists, entomologists, psychiatrists and handwriting experts, but imams with personal experience in witchery are rarer.”

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