Kenyan cult leader to face terrorism charges over starvation deaths

Kenya Cult Deaths Preacher Paul Mackenzie, right, leader of the religious commune based in Malindis Shakahola forest, appears at Malindi Law Courts, Malindi town, Kenyan Coast Tuesday, May 2, 2023 | AP

Kenyan self-proclaimed pastor Paul Nthenge Mackenzie will face terrorism charges over the death of 109 people. Nthenge Mackenzie has been accused of inciting followers to starve to death 'to meet Jesus', AFP reported. 

Nthenge Mackenzie founded the church of Good News International in 2003. authorities have been exhuming bodies in the Shakahola forest since April 23. they have also rescued some followers in emaciated condition-- they were hiding in bushes. 

Nthenge Mackenzie was arrested on April 14. After a brief hearing, the case was moved to the High Court in Kenya's second-largest city of Mombasa, where the suspects will face terrorism charges, prosecutor Vivian Kambaga told AFP. Relatives of the victims were present at the hearing.

"There is a court (in Mombasa) that is gazetted to handle cases under the prevention of terrorism act," Kambaga told a magistrate. Ezekiel Odero, a high-profile televangelist, is also expected at the high court in Mombasa in connection with the same case. Odero could face charges of murder, aiding suicide, abduction, radicalisation, crimes against humanity, child cruelty, fraud and money laundering. 

Odero and Nthenge Mackenzie share a 'history of business investments'. This includes a television station used to spread radicalised messages among the followers. 

In the wake of the horrific incidents, Kenyan President William Ruto has vowed to intervene in religious movements in the country home to about 4,000 churches.


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