Leader of a religious sect in Kenya and 29 others accused of killing 191 children | News

The 191 children were among the 425 victims found in the Shakahola forest on Kenya’s coast last year.

Kenyan cult leader Paul Nothing McKenzie and 29 of his associates were charged on Tuesday with the murder of 191 children whose bodies were found among hundreds of people buried in a forest.

All of the defendants denied the charges against them before a court in the coastal city of Malindi, near the Indian Ocean. One suspect was found mentally unfit to stand trial and ordered to return to the Malindi High Court within a month.

Prosecutors said McKenzie ordered his followers to starve themselves and their children to death so they could go to heaven before the end of the world, in one of the worst cult-related disasters in modern 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 died of starvation. But others, including children, appear to have been strangled, beaten or suffocated.

The case, dubbed the “Shakahola Forest Massacre,” prompted the government to point out the need to tighten control over fringe sects.

Kenya, a largely Christian nation, struggles to regulate unscrupulous churches and criminal cults.

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