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Man who killed 42 women and girls craving for magical powers to be executed

A man convicted of killing 42 women and girls in western Indonesia in ritual slayings he hoped would bring him magical powers will soon be executed, his lawyer said Thursday.

Police say Ahmad Suradji, 57, lured his female victims to a sugarcane field near his home, buried them up to the waist, and then strangled them before reburying their bodies with the heads pointing toward his house.

Suradji was arrested in May 1997 following the discovery of a body in the field in Lubukpakan, a village in North Sumatra province. Dozens of other corpses were later found nearby.

A district court found the sorcerer guilty a year later of killing 42 women and girls, between the ages 11 and 30, over an 11-year period. He was sentenced to death.

"We have received formal notification that Suradji will soon be executed," Mansar said, adding that he was not informed of the date. His client was placed in isolation Monday, however, indicating it could occur within days. "I just met him at the prison this morning, and I think that was our last meeting."

Many Indonesians believe in witchcraft and Suradji claimed he had the power to influence people's futures. The victims were believed to have been seeking his help in making their husbands or boyfriends faithful. Suradji said he had hoped their ritual killings would increase his powers.

Suradji's wife, Tumini, was also sentenced to death for assisting with the murders, but her sentence was later reduced to life in prison.

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