Updated February 7th, 2024 at 10:24 IST
Starved 191 children to Death in Kenya: Doomsday Cult Leader Paul Mackenzie, 29 Associates Charged
Followers of Mackenzie's Good News International Church resided in secluded settlements within an 800-acre area in the Shakahola forest.
Kenyan cult leader Paul Mackenzie and 29 associates were formally charged on Tuesday with the murder of 191 children, whose bodies were discovered buried in a forest – a case that has garnered widespread global attention. The court's decision, delivered in the coastal town of Malindi, comes nearly a month after a judge ordered mental health evaluations for Mackenzie and the co-accused before any charges were filed. One suspect was deemed mentally unfit to stand trial.
In a packed courtroom, Mackenzie, clad in a black-and-white striped polo shirt, stood alongside other defendants. As per reports, the video footage from the courtroom revealed Mackenzie whispering to co-defendants and consulting with his legal team during the proceedings.
Prosecutors alleged that Mackenzie directed his followers to starve themselves and their children to death, with the belief that they would ascend to heaven before the world's end. This tragedy marks one of the most severe cult-related disasters in recent history.
Followers of Mackenzie's Good News International Church resided in secluded settlements within an 800-acre area in the Shakahola forest. Over 400 bodies have been exhumed since last April, with numerous others still missing and dozens rescued, according to local officials.
Mackenzie, arrested in April, faced charges ranging from terrorism-related crimes to manslaughter and torture. In December, he was convicted of producing and distributing films without a license, resulting in a 12-month jail sentence. Formerly a taxi driver, Mackenzie prohibited cult members from sending their children to school or seeking medical care, labelling such institutions as Satanic.
Published February 7th, 2024 at 10:24 IST