Kenya: Evangelical sect leader tried for "terrorism"

Kenya: Evangelical sect leader tried for “terrorism”

The trial of Paul Nthenge Mackenzie begins this Monday in Mombasa. Arrested in April 2023, this leader of a Kenyan evangelical sect is accused of “terrorism” in connection with the “Shakahola massacre”a tragedy that caused the death of more than 400 people.

The tragedy, which has deeply shocked both the country and the international community, sees self-proclaimed pastor Paul Nthenge Mackenzie appear in court in Mombasa, a major Indian Ocean port, alongside 94 co-accused. The hearing began under tight security, with journalists forced to leave the courtroom to protect the identity of a key witness.

Indeed, the accusations against Paul Nthenge Mackenzie include inciting his followers to fast until death with the alleged aim of “meet Jesus”. He and his co-defendants have all pleaded not guilty to the charges. “terrorism” at a previous hearing in January. They also face charges of murder, manslaughter, kidnapping, child torture and cruelty, each being dealt with in separate proceedings.

Authorities have exhumed the remains of more than 440 people in a remote location near the coastal town of Malindi, with autopsies revealing that most died of starvation, while some, including children, were victims of physical abuse such as strangulation, beatings or suffocation. In addition, documentary evidence indicates post-mortem mutilation on some bodies.