Kenyan church cult leader faces terrorism charges as investigators search for more dead bodies

Kenyan church cult leader faces terrorism charges as investigators search for more dead bodies

A Kenyan Christian church cult leader accused of ordering his followers to starve themselves to death has appeared in court on Tuesday, marking the start of the government’s legal trials against him.

This is coming at the time when investigators searched for more bodies in a forest in eastern Kenya where 101 bodies have already been discovered.

Kenyan authorities say the victims were members of the Good News International Church, led by 50 year-old Paul Mackenzie who predicted the world would end on April 15 and ordered his followers to starve themselves to death “to meet Jesus.”

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Prosecutors said he will face terrorism charges in connection with the deaths of more than 100 people discovered buried in the “Shakahola forest massacre.”

Following a brief hearing, the case was transferred to the high court in Mombasa, Kenya’s second-largest city, where the suspects will face terrorism charges.

In a similar development, another church leader, Pastor Ezekiel Odero, whose church is in the same region as Mackenzie’s, has also appeared in court.

He is also being investigated for his links to Mackenzie.

He will remain in custody for a further two days as investigations continue, according to authorities.

Prosecutors have linked Odero and Mackenzie, claiming in court documents that they have a “history of business investments,” including a television station used to broadcast “radicalized messages” to followers.

A human rights defender, Mumina Alaso, says justice must be served to all those who died as a result of the pastors’ indoctrination.

“It’s really bad,” she said. “Most of the Ezekiel people have come to chant that they want the pastor to be released, while there are so many people who have lost their loved ones. And some who have not yet found their loved ones with the cult pastors. … I feel that justice has to be done for the people who have lost their lives being forced to fast and even their children who were forced to fast.”

The death toll after the unfortunate incident stands at 109 – 101 bodies, mostly children, found in mass graves and eight people found alive who later died while the interior ministry said more than 400 people are missing.

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