The body of Vilma Trujillo Garcia, burnt in a fire on February 21st by religious fanatics, was transferred yesterday to the El Cortezal community, in the jurisdiction of Rosita in Nicaragua’s Mining Triangle, while the Police continued their investigations into the case.
On Tuesday February 28th, the authorities presented the five persons arrested who were transported from Siuna to Managua, where their trial will be held. This decision was criticized as it violates the Criminal Procedure Code, as those charged should be tried in the jurisdiction corresponding to Siuna.
Vilma Trujillo Garcia, 25, died later on Tuesday at the Lenin Fonseca Hospital in Managua after suffering burns to 80% of her body after an alleged pastor from the Asambleas de Dios Church threw her into a fire to “purify her”, as he said the woman was possessed.
The event took place on February 21st in the region where this woman lived with her husband and two children. According to Reynaldo Peralta, Trujillo’s husband, the woman was tied up, naked and thrown onto the fire by Juan Gregorio Rocha, who identified himself as a pastor from Asambleas de Dios.
Rocha as well as the alleged accomplices Estrella del Socorro Orozco, Tomasa Rocha Romero, Franklin Jarquin Hernandez and Pedro Rocha Romero were those exhibited by the police.
Miurel Gutierrez, from the AHD Gaviota Collective, which is giving support to Rosita’s family, said that it all began when Peralta left the community to build a house where his mother lives, as the mother was in poor health.
He was gone for at least 15 days and Trujillo began to not feel well, fainting among other things. Gutierrez spoke to Trujillo’s younger sister, who is 15 years old, who also told him that they had gone to the church to look for help in making her better.
That was when she arrived at Rocha’s church, who claimed that they would heal her. Along with the four other people, he threw her into a fire where the woman suffered serious burns to her body.
She was later thrown into a ravine on the riverbank where she remained 9 hours until her little sister found her and asked the rest of the family for help to take her to the hospital in Rosita.
The alleged pastor was arrested last Friday along with four other people who are suspected of taking part in the incident and will be transferred to Managua. When asked questions by journalists while they were in the Police’s truck, Rocha stated that: “God said that he was going to take the bad spirit out of her and that we should make a fire there because he (the demon) was going to be expelled.”
Moreover, he stated that neither he nor his companions were the ones to push her into the fire, but that she fell into the fire when “the demon’s spirit left her body.” Rocha showed no remorse of any kind for the harm that he had inflicted on this woman.
The president of Asambleas de Dios, Rafael Aristas, said that Rocha wasn’t registered as a pastor in this religious organization and stated that they would find a way to ask him why he had identified himself as such.
“He is a secular evangelical, but not a pastor. His name doesn’t appear as a pastor in the register we have with all of our pastors. He has never gone to university to say that he had studied to be a pastor,” Aristas said.
Furthermore, he said that he wouldn’t take legal action because they will look for a way to resolve the conflict at hand from a religious standpoint.
Trujillo’s body was transferred in a private truck to El Cortezal community after the corpse was released from Legal Medicine authorities in Rosita and given to her family.
Herenia Amaya, a member of the Nicaraguan Initiative for the Defense of Women’s Human Rights, said that organizations had come together to offer support to Peralta for his travel and accommodation expenses in Managua and also for his wife’s coffin.
On Tuesday afternoon, Vice-President Rosario Murillo spoke out against this tragedy. “It’s really unfortunate, a sister of ours was tortured by members of her community, something which cannot, and should not, be repeated,” she said.