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Indonesian police have released this image of a man accused of beheading his father. Photo: Handout, Central Lampung police

Indonesian man beheads father he feared was about to cast spell

  • The man then got on a motorbike and paraded the decapitated head around the village
  • While Islam is the dominant religion in the country, believing in black magic is common in rural areas and accusations can prove fatal
A man in Indonesia beheaded his father because he believed his parent planned to cast a deadly spell on him.

He then got on a motorbike and paraded his father’s decapitated head around the village, local media reported on Tuesday.

The man, 37, was arrested in the district of Sendang Agung, Central Lampung, on Sumatra island and is being held at a psychiatric hospital. Local media are referring to him with the initials KPW.

He had reportedly visited his father on Monday to apologise over an earlier disagreement, when suddenly he became enraged and attacked.

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“He felt vengeful towards his father because he felt his father was going to cast a spell on him, that his father would kill him using witchcraft,” Central Lampung police detective Edi Qorinas told CNNIndonesia.

The man’s family told police he often talked to himself and they suspected he was mentally ill.

Central Lampung police chief Popon Sunggoro told the news website that the man said he had heard voices telling him to kill his father.

Popon said the police were awaiting the results of the psychiatric examination. He added that there were no witnesses but the man had confessed to the killing.

While Islam is the dominant religion in Indonesia, it is not unusual for people in rural areas to believe in black magic and visit witch doctors. 

However, being accused of practising witchcraft can prove fatal.

An angry Democratic Party member has threatened Indonesia’s presidential chief of staff Moeldoko, second from left, with a spell. Photo: EPA

In 2019, a 55-year old man was bludgeoned to death with a rock and an anti-mosquito racket in Sampang, East Java, after being accused of casting a spell on an elderly woman and killing her. And in May 2020, a 59-year-old man accused of practising witchcraft was killed in East Nusa Tenggara, in the eastern part of Indonesia.

Siti Darojatul Aliah, executive director of Society Against Radicalism and Violent Extremism (Serve), said many Indonesians still believed in witchcraft “even in the cities”.

“The most recent case involved someone threatening to cast a spell on Moeldoko,” she said, referring to the Chief of Staff for President Joko Widodo.

Moeldoko is embroiled in a political row in which he is accused of trying to wrest the Democratic Party leadership from its chairman Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, the son of the former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono who founded the party.

The threat to cast a spell on Moeldoko came from an angry Democratic Party member, Iti Jayabaya.