Kenyan cult leader Paul Mackenzie charged with murdering 191 children

Kenyan cult leader Paul Mackenzie has formally been charged with the murder of 191 children.

Kenyan cult leader Paul Mackenzie has formally been charged with the murder of 191 children. Photo: AFP/Getty

Kenyan cult leader Paul Mackenzie and 29 associates have been charged with the murder of 191 children whose bodies were found among more than double that number buried in a forest.

The defendants all denied the charges brought before a court in the coastal town of Malindi.

One suspect was found mentally unfit to stand trial.

Prosecutors say Mackenzie, the head of the Good News International Church, ordered his followers to starve themselves and their children to death so that they could go to heaven before the world ended.

He was arrested in April last year after the bodies started to be discovered.

Before the murder charges were brought, he was charged with terrorism-related crimes, manslaughter and torture.

More than 400 bodies were uncovered during months of exhumations across tens of thousands of acres of the Shakahola forest, making it one of the world’s worst cult-related tragedies in recent history.

A lawyer for Mackenzie, who has been in custody since police started unearthing bodies, has said the self-styled pastor is co-operating with the investigation.

During a hearing in January a judge granted a prosecution request to conduct mental health assessments of the 31 defendants before they were formally charged and entered pleas.

Prosecutors also attributed delays in bringing charges to the gruelling and delicate task of locating, exhuming and examining so many human remains.

Some of Mackenzie’s other followers were rescued, emaciated, from the forest.

People with knowledge of the cult’s activities told Reuters last year that Mackenzie planned the mass starvation in three phases: First children, then women and young men, and finally the remaining men.

A former taxi driver, he forbade cult members from sending their children to school and from going to hospital when they were ill, branding such institutions as Satanic, some of his followers said.


Stay informed, daily
A FREE subscription to The New Daily arrives every morning and evening.
The New Daily is a trusted source of national news and information and is provided free for all Australians. Read our editorial charter
Copyright © 2024 The New Daily.
All rights reserved.