Autopsies revealed that the majority of the 429 victims had died of hunger. But others, including children, appeared to have been strangled, beaten, or suffocated…reports Asian Lite News
Kenyan cult leader Paul NthengeMackenzie and 29 associates were on Tuesday charged with the murder of 191 children whose bodies were found among hundreds of people buried in a forest.
The defendants all denied the charges brought before a court in the coastal town of Malindi near the Indian Ocean. One suspect was found mentally unfit to stand trial and has been ordered to return to the Malindi High Court in a month.
Prosecutors said Mackenzie ordered his followers to starve themselves and their children to death so that they could go to heaven before the world ended, in one of the world’s worst cult-related disasters in recent history.
The former taxi driver turned self-proclaimed pastor has already been charged with “terrorism”, manslaughter as well as child torture and cruelty. He was arrested in April last year after bodies were found in the Shakahola forest.
Autopsies revealed that the majority of the 429 victims had died of hunger. But others, including children, appeared to have been strangled, beaten, or suffocated.
The case, dubbed the “Shakahola forest massacre”, led the government to flag the need for tighter control of fringe denominations. A largely Christian nation, Kenya has struggled to regulate unscrupulous churches and cults that dabble in criminality.
Following this, the investigators alleged that the cult was preparing for the end of the world under the instructions of Mackenzie.
He has remained in custody since last April as investigators spent months combing the forest for evidence.
Later, the autopsy results showed that many of the recovered bodies had died from starvation while others had signs of blunt trauma and strangulation, as reported by CNN.
However, last month, a court threatened to release Mackenzie if the state prosecutor did not bring charges against him.
Prosecutors replied that they faced a lengthy process to identify victims through DNA due to the severe decomposition of the majority of bodies.