Lithuanian Firm Hires Witch To Hunt Debt Dodgers

(AP) In these difficult times for creditors, a Lithuanian debt collector is offering an unconventional service to retrieve arrears: witchcraft.

The Vilnius-based firm has hired Vilija Lobaciuviene, the Baltic nation's most famous self-styled witch, to hunt down companies and individuals who are failing to pay their debts amid the credit crunch.

"There are certain people, who are using this crisis situation and refuse to pay back banks or other companies," said Amantas Celkonas, director of the Skolu Isieskojimo Biuras, or debt collecting bureau.

"Our new employee will help them to understand the situation, reconsider what is right and wrong and act accordingly," he said. "We will also help those who are in real trouble, suffering from psychological impact of bankruptcy and depression."

Lobaciuviene, who describes herself as "Lithuania's leading witch," is renowned in the former Soviet republic of 3.4 million people for providing such "magical" services as predicting the future and casting spells. She claims to use hypnosis, herbal medicines and "the bio-energy field" when helping her "patients."

Asked to comment on her new job, Lobaciuviene, 53, told The Associated Press on Thursday that she is happy to be of assistance.

"I am free citizen and can do whatever I like. I am glad someone needs my help and I will do whatever I can to help people," she said.

Local pundits, however, ridiculed the agency's move.

"This is return to the Dark Ages. If they really believe that this woman may help someone get money back, then there's something very wrong with this country," said columnist Monika Bonckute.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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