Grandmother killed in French 'exorcism' ritual

AFP/August 7, 2007

Lyon, France -- French police have arrested two women who confessed to killing a 70-year-old Tunisian grandmother in an "exorcism" ritual at her home in the eastern city of Lyon, court officials said Tuesday.

The victim's adoptive daughter and a friend she met during a stay in a psychiatric ward are thought to have suffocated the elderly woman with a scarf and a plastic bag, causing her to lose consciousness. She died in hospital.

According to the officials, the women, both Tunisian-born, said they were trying to cure her of behavioural problems, and tied her head in a bag "to trap the devil".

The family friend has been placed under investigation -- the first step to indictment -- for voluntary violence having accidentally caused death, while the daughter is being investigated as an accomplice.

The woman's death was thought to be an accident until her daughter mentioned the "exorcism" during a visit to the police station. Her body, buried in Tunisia, is be exhumed and an autopsy carried out.

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