May 11 (UPI) -- A Nicaraguan court has sentenced a pastor and four of his followers to 30 years in prison for killing a woman after throwing her unto a fire to "purify her soul."
Vilma Trujillo García, 25, died Feb. 28 at a Managua hospital with 80 percent of her body burned after members of the Assembly of God church forced her to fast for six days while tied up from Feb. 15 until Feb. 21, when she was deliberately burned, La Prensa reported.
José Alfredo Silva Chamorro, judge for Nicaragua's Fifth Criminal District, sentenced Juan Gregorio Rocha Romero, the 23-year-old pastor, his siblings Pedro Rocha Romero and Tomasa Rocha, and followers Franklin Jarquín and Esneyda Orozco each to 30 years after being convicted of murder.
Each person sentenced, except Esneyda Orozco who was the only one not convicted of simple abduction, must also pay a fine of more than $500. The simple abduction conviction would normally yield a six-year sentence, but the maximum sentence allowed in Nicaragua is 30 years.
The pastor denied wrongdoing, alleging demons lifted the victim's body and dropped her on the flames.
Some human rights organizations said Trujillo García's death is a result of sexism, citing the crime should be considered an act of femicide, the violent and deliberate killing of a woman.
Silva Chamorro said those sentenced to the maximum Nicaragua's law allows will be freed on Feb. 28, 2047.
Nicaraguan prosecutor Fabiola Mendoza said she was satisfied with the judge's sentence and that justice was carried out. Mendoza said defense attorneys can not appeal the verdict but can only the sentence.