Steven Tari
'Black Jesus' Steven Tari hacked to death by villagers (

A Papua New Guinea cult leader known as 'Black Jesus' has been hacked to death by villagers in the Madang province.

Steven Tari was found dead after he escaped prison in March during a mass break-out with other convicts. He had been serving a 20-year sentence for raping four girls.

According to AFP, Tari was widely known as a Lutheran pastor and ran a Christian-based sect. At his peak, he had thousands of village followers, including armed warriors who protected him.

His followers became known as a 'cargo cult' in Papua New Guinea and he preached that young girls should be married to him, as it was God's prophecy.

Tari, believed to be 42, was captured in 2007 and as well as the rape charges, he was accused of cannibalism. human sacrifice and blood rituals, but he was never charged with these crimes.

Following his escape from prison, he was found by villagers attacking a young girl who he had "tricked into joining the cult", Madang police chief Sylvester Kalaut said.

Strong warning

He is also believed to have killed another girl a week earlier. The villagers reportedly surrounded him and one of his followers, who was also attacking the girl, and killed them.

Kalaut told the PNG Post-Courier: "He is now dead and this could be the fate of the others who are also on the run from authorities and I am warning and strongly urging those escapees to surrender themselves to authorities."

The practice of witchcraft is rife in Papua New Guinea. In April, two elderly women were tortured and beheaded for practicing sorcery, and in June another woman was publicly beheaded for being a witch.

Last July, 29 people were arrested for being part of a cannibal cult for the murder of seven suspected witch doctors. The National newspaper said members had cut off penises of victims, and turned them into soup. They are also accused of eating their brains raw.

"They don't think they've done anything wrong; they admit what they've done openly," Madang Police Commander Anthony Wagambie said.

READ: Papua New Guinea: 'Cannibal Black Jesus' Castrated and Disemboweled by Villagers