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Malaysian says he killed 2 to expel evil spirits

Malaysian says he killed 2 to expel evil spirits

A Malaysian man told a court trying him on homicide charges that he beat two of his relatives to death in a ritual to cleanse them of evil spirits, a prosecutor said Thursday.
Muhammad Ilyas Abdul Razak was charged with causing the death of his 47-year-old uncle and 41-year-old aunt during a family gathering in an apartment in Kuala Lumpur in October 2008. The victims were allegedly beaten to death with brooms and motorcycle helmets to cure them of smoking habits and other problems, court officials have said.
Ilyas, 25, told the court he was bestowed with powers from the leader of a banned cult to heal sicknesses and raise the dead, said deputy public prosecutor Anselm Charles Fernandis.
"I could see that there were many evil spirits in my house and in the bodies of all my family members which I needed to remove. If I didn't do it, they would have harmed us," Muhammad Ilyas said in his defense statement to the High Court on Wednesday, according to court transcripts.
Fernandis said Ilyas told the court that he didn't mean to kill his aunt and uncle.
Ilyas was charged along with his brother Muhamad Fauzi, 21, and cousin Muhammad Nizam Mohamad Ibrahim, 19, who is the son of the deceased. They are being tried separately.
Fernandis said the High Court reduced the charges against the three from murder to culpable homicide on grounds that the victims had consented to the ritual. The defendants face up to 30 years in jail if convicted, he said.
He said a government psychiatrist testified Wednesday that Ilyas was mentally unsound and had a bipolar mood disorder. The three defendants were earlier held for psychiatric observation for two months.
The hearing is to resume Jan. 15.
Superstitious beliefs are strong in the majority Islamic country. In villages, it is common for people to seek the help of spiritual healers for mental and physical illnesses, but their rituals are not known to involve violence.