Kenyan authorities are preparing to charge cult leader Paul Mackenzie with murder and terrorism following the discovery of over 400 bodies in mass graves.
Mackenzie, who was arrested in April, denies any responsibility for the deaths.
The arrest followed the disturbing revelation of hundreds of bodies, some of whom were reported to have died of starvation. Kenyan prosecutors are set to bring charges against Mackenzie and 94 others in a Malindi court on Wednesday.
The self-proclaimed pastor is accused of influencing his Good News International Church members to relocate to Shakahola, a remote forest about two hours west of Malindi, where the grim discoveries were made.
Witnesses claim Mackenzie instructed followers in January last year to undertake a fasting regimen to “get to heaven.” However, Mackenzie argues that he cannot be held responsible for the deaths as he closed his church in 2019.
The investigation, marked by repeated requests to extend Mackenzie’s custody, has gathered enough evidence to charge him and others with offenses ranging from murder to assault and “facilitating the commission of a terrorist act.”
Out of the 95 suspects, 64 were initially treated as victims and relocated to a rescue center. However, investigators later discovered that many of them had lost children in the forest. Some had provided false names and identities, failing to account for their deceased children.
Adding a twist to the story, Mackenzie was convicted last November for operating a film studio associated with his preaching without a valid filming license. The court proceedings in Malindi are expected to illuminate the alleged atrocities committed by Mackenzie and his associates.