'Black Jesus' accused of rape and murder

Telegraph, UK/March 20, 2007
By Nick Squires

Police in Papua New Guinea are preparing to bring at least 30 charges of rape and murder against a religious cult leader who calls himself Black Jesus.

Steven Tari, who was captured last week after hiding out in the jungle for nearly two years, allegedly raped, killed and ate three young sex slaves he recruited in remote jungle villages on the country's north coast.

Known for wearing prophet-like flowing robes, he is suspected of raping dozens of other young girls.

Tari, 35, a failed Bible student who claimed he was the "true Christ", had around 6,000 followers and promised his disciples material wealth and religious salvation if they joined his bizarre cargo cult.

Among his devotees were dozens of sex slaves, some as young as nine, whom he referred to as his "flower girls".

After arresting him in his mountain hide-out last week police carried him out of the jungle on a bamboo stretcher, with his hands and feet bound.

He was almost lynched when brought to a police station in the provincial capital, Madang.

"The police are having a hard time keeping the crowd away from him because of the reports of what he did to young girls," said Peter Kili, from the Post Courier newspaper.

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