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Kenyan Doomsday Cult Leader Faces Terrorism Charges Over Mass Starvation Deaths

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Ayize claire

Jul 9, 2024

Paul Nthenge Mackenzie and 94 Co-Defendants Stand Trial in Mombasa for Shocking "Shakahola Forest Massacre" Involving Over 400 Deaths

Paul Nthenge Mackenzie, the leader of a Kenyan doomsday cult, speaks from behind bars as he faces terrorism and other charges related to the starvation deaths of over 400 followers in the "Shakahola forest massacre."

Kenyan Doomsday Cult Leader Faces Terrorism Charges Over Mass Starvation Deaths

Paul Nthenge Mackenzie, the leader of a Kenyan doomsday cult, appeared in court in Mombasa on Monday, initiating a high-profile trial related to the starvation deaths of over 400 of his followers.

Mackenzie faces charges of terrorism, murder, manslaughter, kidnapping, and child torture, alongside 94 co-defendants. This trial has garnered global attention due to the shocking nature of the crimes.

Mackenzie, a self-proclaimed pastor, and his co-defendants pleaded not guilty to terrorism charges in a January hearing.

They are also accused of inciting followers to starve to death to "meet Jesus." The case, known as the "Shakahola forest massacre," has revealed grim details, with autopsies indicating that while starvation was the primary cause of death, some victims, including children, were strangled, beaten, or suffocated.

Some bodies were found with organs removed, adding to the horror of the situation.

Mackenzie, formerly a taxi driver, surrendered to authorities on April 14, following police raids on Shakahola forest where mass graves were discovered. Since then, over 440 bodies have been exhumed from the remote area near Malindi. The authorities have begun the painstaking process of identifying the victims through DNA analysis and have started returning bodies to grieving relatives.

The trial has raised significant questions about law enforcement's role in allowing Mackenzie to operate despite his history of extremism and previous legal issues. Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki has accused the Kenyan police of negligence, describing the Shakahola massacre as the worst security breach in the country's history. He has called for legal reforms to curb rogue preachers, emphasizing the need for stricter regulation of religious movements.

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) criticized Malindi's security officers for gross negligence and failing to act on early reports of starvation. President William Ruto has pledged to address the issues within Kenya's religious movements, highlighting the need to regulate unscrupulous churches and cults. This case has put a spotlight on the challenges Kenya faces in controlling illegal religious activities in a predominantly Christian nation.

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