A doomsday cult chief in Kenya has been charged with the murders of 191 kids after their our bodies have been discovered within the forest the place his church was primarily based.
Paul Mackenzie allegedly advised his followers to starve themselves to demise so they’d meet Jesus Christ earlier than the world ends.
The kids have been amongst 429 our bodies that have been discovered over the course of months of exhumations throughout tens of hundreds of acres of the Shakahola Forest within the coastal county of Kilifi.
The exhumations started after the primary our bodies have been found in April 2023 – with the quantity that was ultimately discovered making the case one of many worst cult-related tragedies in current historical past.
Mackenzie appeared at Kenya’s High Court on Wednesday alongside 30 of his followers who’re additionally charged with homicide in relation to the kids.
None of the defendants entered a plea as a result of Judge Mugure Thande granted a request from prosecutors that they endure psychological well being assessments earlier than returning to courtroom on 6 February.
The stays of 180 of the 191 lifeless kids haven’t been recognized, based on the prosecution’s cost sheet.
Mackenzie allegedly inspired members of his Good News International Church to maneuver to Shakahola Forest to organize for the tip of the world.
Many of the 429 members who died are believed to have starved themselves as a result of he instructed them to take action.
Autopsies confirmed others died from strangulation or suffocation.
The our bodies have been found in dozens of shallow graves on an 800-acre (320-hectare) ranch within the forest the place the church was primarily based.
A senate committee report in Kenya stated Mackenzie selected the realm attributable to its remoteness.
“Once inside the villages established by Mackenzie, followers were not allowed to leave the area, nor interact within themselves,” the report stated.
“The followers were required to destroy vital documents, among them national identity cards, birth certificates, certificates of title to property, academic certificates and marriage certificates,” creating issues in figuring out the lifeless, the report stated.
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The graves have been discovered after police rescued 15 emaciated church members who advised investigators that Mackenzie had instructed them to quick to demise earlier than the world ends.
Four of the 15 died after they have been taken to a hospital.
Kenya’s prime prosecutor stated on Monday that 95 folks will likely be charged with homicide, cruelty, little one torture and different crimes in relation to the tons of of deaths.
In the months after the arrest of the defendants in April 2023, prosecutors requested a courtroom in Kilifi for permission to maintain holding them whereas the investigation continues.
But final week, Principal Magistrate Yousuf Shikanda declined their newest request to carry the suspects for a further 60 days, saying the prosecutors had been given sufficient time to finish the investigation.
Mackenzie is serving a separate one-year jail sentence after being discovered responsible of working a movie studio and producing films for his preaching with no legitimate license.