A two-year-old Brazilian boy suffering from 50 needles stuck everywhere inside his body was the victim of a "black magic" ritual performed by his stepfather, police said Wednesday.
The stepfather, Roberto Carlos Magalhaes, broke down and confessed after being arrested earlier in the day, the police chief in charge of the investigation, Helder Fernandes Santana, told AFP.
"He did that for revenge, to get back at his wife. His mistress told him to kill the child through a macabre ritual," said Santana by telephone from the northeastern town of Ibotirama, in Bahia state.
The toddler, who could not be named because of his young age, remained in intensive care in a hospital in the nearby town of Barreiras, where he was admitted on Sunday by his mother after vomiting and complaining of stomach pain.
X-rays showed around 50 metal sewing needles inside his body, including his neck, torso and legs.
Surprised doctors who treated the boy said they knew immediately the needles had not been swallowed but inserted deliberately, one by one.
He is conscious but in a "serious" condition, hospital spokeswoman Kelly Bessa told AFP. "One needle perforated a lung,and he is weak. We drained the area and he is on a drip."
She added that doctors were deciding Wednesday whether it would be safe to operate to remove "the needles that are closest to vital organs - but that might be more dangerous than just leaving them in."
The mother of the boy, Maria Souza Santos, 38, told the newspaper A Tarde de Salvador de Bahia that she believed her son had been the victim of a black magic rite.
She said she had found a bottle of cachaca, Brazilian rum made from sugar cane, and objects used for such ceremonies in the modest house she shared with her six children, her mother and her husband of six months, Magalhaes.
Souza Santos works as a maid. Magalhaes worked as a fisherman and laborer.
Although Brazil is a largely Catholic country, superstition and animist cults exist, mainly in the poorer northern regions.
(Sapa-AFP, December 2009)