Police have arrested 12 members of a religious group following the death of a diabetic girl whose parents allegedly withdrew treatment in favour of a prayer ritual.
Elizabeth Struhs died on January 7 in Queensland, Australia, with police claiming the insulin needed to combat her type-one diabetes was withheld.
According to reports, rather than providing Elizabeth with her medication, parents Jason, 50, and Kerrie, 46, chanted prayers and hymns with up to 20 members of a breakaway Christian church called “The Saints”.
Officers swooped on an address in Harristown on Monday, arresting 12 members of the church.
According to the Daily Mail, it is alleged that Elizabeth’s parents withheld the insulin for several days as they believed that “God will heal her”.
The parents have reportedly been charged with murder, torture and failing to provide the necessities of life for the youngster – with officers claiming a group of 14 decided to deny Elizabeth insulin.
Regional crime coordinator detective acting superintendent Garry Watts said in quotes reported by the outlet: “It will be alleged that 14 people in total allegedly made the choice to deny this young girl her right to medical care.
“The arrests are the result of a six-month investigation, in which all officers involved were dedicated to ensuring those alleged to be responsible for her death, are brought before the court.”
Police allege the couple held a “prayer ritual” with fellow worshippers while Elizabeth died surrounded by singing and guitar-playing, with no immediate call placed to paramedics.
Elizabeth’s devastated sister Jayde says that she was forced out of the family because of her sexuality, while a former “The Saints member called David was reported to have said : “They believed they were the only true Christians because they could speak in tongues.”