Jun 2, 2023

Religious leader linked to Kenya starvation cult says court hearing is a 'matter of intimidation'

By David McKenzie, Bethlehem Feleke and Niamh Kennedy, CNN

Fri June 2, 2023

Mombasa, Kenya CNN


The leader of a Christian cult who has been accused of encouraging his followers to starve themselves appeared in court in Mombasa, Kenya on Friday, telling CNN afterwards that the hearing is a “matter of intimidation” and time-wasting.

Paul Nthenge Mackenzie was arrested last month after police received a tipoff that his land on the Shakahola forest in the Kilifi County of eastern Kenya contained mass graves.

According to court documents, investigators have so far found 249 bodies and at least 10 mass graves in the Shakahola forest area.

Mackenzie who appeared before the magistrate’s court in Mombasa, told CNN’s David McKenzie that he had “never seen anybody starving” when asked about accusations that followers of his group had starved their children following his instructions.

In court documents dated Friday, the state prosecutor said it would seek to extend the respondents’ custody period by a further 60 days.

The prosecutor has maintained that the “extended period of 60 days is the least period possible within which investigations are to be completed under the prevailing circumstances.”

The prosecutor is also arguing that there are “compelling reasons” to deny the respondents bail, including evidence gathered thus far which “demonstrates a high likelihood of serious charges against the accused.”

David McKenzie and Bethlehem Feleke reported from Mombasa, Kenya. Niamh Kennedy reported from London.




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