- Detectives hunting the killers behind the 'Torso in the
Thames' child murder are investigating the illegal bushmeat trade after
allegations that human flesh is being offered for sale in London.
- Police believe that the murdered five-year-old, whom
they have called Adam, was the victim of a ritualistic killing linked to
a West African form of voodoo-like religion. Officers suspect that gangs
illegally importing exotic meat, such as chimpanzee and bush rat from West
Africa, are involved in trading in substances used in African witchcraft
that may include human body parts.
- Detectives from Operation Swalcliffe, which is investigating
Adam's death, joined a raid on a north London shop last month by environmental
health officers after a tip-off that human body parts were being sold.
The officers seized two tonnes of unfit meat, including a crocodile head,
used in ritualistic dishes to increase sexual stamina in men. They also
found rat faeces, which had been removed from rats' intestines and prepared
as a delicacy for possible use in a ritual.
- The trade in importing bushmeat to Britain has boomed
in recent years, but this was the first time evidence has been found linking
it to witchcraft ceremonies. While police found no obvious traces of human
flesh, packages of unidentifiable meat and ribs wrapped in plastic bags
and stored in a backroom have been sent for DNA testing.
- Clive Lawrence, Heathrow airport's meat transport director,
who was on the raid, is convinced that human flesh is finding its way into
the UK as part of the bushmeat. He believes that the trade is also linked
to criminal gangs involved in people trafficking and drug smuggling.
- 'The intelligence we are receiving suggests human flesh
is coming into this country," he said. 'We are dealing with some very
- Experts believe African witchcraft rituals are on the
increase in Britain. Professor Hendrick Scholtz, a South African expert
in witchcraft and an adviser on Operation Swalcliffe, said: 'As these communities
grow, elements of African culture will be inevitably transported to Britain.'
- In the past year police have discovered seven incidences
of West Africans conducting religious rituals on the banks of the Thames.
They usually involve lighting candles and writing on white sheets that
are then thrown them into the water. Early in their investigations, police
thought seven half-burnt candles wrapped in a sheet near Battersea Power
Station could hold the key to the murder. The name 'Adekoyejo Fola Adoye'
was written on the sheet and carved in the candles.
- However, detectives found that Adoye lived in New York
and his London-based parents had performed a ceremony to celebrate the
fact he was not killed in the 11 September terrorist attacks. Nevertheless,
the revelation is thought to have surprised police who had been unaware
such rituals had been taking place in public in the capital.
- The use of human flesh is a taboo subject in many African
communities, which stress that traditional culture abhors such acts. Scholtz
said it is used when a normal animal sacrifice is considered insufficient.
Human flesh is also typically used when a group of people is trying to
achieve a common goal.
- The possible uses of such body parts is varied: skin
from a stomach can be used to cause pain to enemies, while fingernails
and toenails are used in poisons. Eyebrows, hair and noses are often used
in curses. Particularly strong magic is believed to reside in a person's
genitalia. Breasts and genitalia from both sexes are used in love potions.
- Police believe that Adam was brought to Britain as a
slave and sacrificed in a ritual intended to bring good luck to his killers.
- 'There is an ongoing search for Adam's head and limbs
and there is evidence to suggest a link between those who are involved
and the trade in illegal animal parts and meat products,' said a spokesman
for Operation Swalcliffe.
- Privately, detectives believe Adam's arms, legs and skull
have been kept as magical trophies. Two officers are in Nigeria trying
to find his parents after DNA testing showed he was born there. They believe
his death may be linked to an extreme element from the Yoruba people, a
tribe with voodoo-like rituals.