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Kenyan priest at center of investigation after dozens of bodies exhumed

Kenyan police have recovered dozens of bodies from graves linked to a Christian priest who is being investigated for instructing his congregation to starve themselves to death, police and local media reported.

Kenya Police Commissioner Japhet Koome, tell a reporter On Monday, homicide detectives and pathologists exhumed 11 bodies from a series of shallow graves, bringing the death toll to 58.

Many of the victims are believed to be members of the Good News International Church, a “suspected cult”, according to a statement from Mr Koom. The small sect, based near the town of Malindi, is led by pastor Paul Nthenge Mackenzie, who was arrested this month.

Kenyan President William Ruto called the charges “similar to terrorism” in a televised address on Monday. “Terrorists use religion to advance their heinous acts,” he said.

Attempts to contact Mr Mackenzie or lawyers representing him were not immediately successful.

Mr MacKenzie was arrested on April 14 after authorities rescued more than 15 people from his property, four of whom died in critical condition, according to media reports.

A few days later, he was arraigned by a Malindi court judge who said the pastor would be held for two weeks while police investigate.

Authorities went to Mr Mackenzie’s residence after receiving reports from residents that people were starving on the property, according to Malindi Criminal Investigations chief Charles Kamau.

“We have received information that people there are starving after being radicalized by a church member who told them their work in this world is done and they should die and meet their Creator ,” Mr Kamo said in an interview with Citizen TV following Mr Mackenzie’s arrest.

The death toll is expected to rise this week as investigators continue to search for bodies and survivors. Some who have been found alive still refuse to eat or drink. At least 112 people were reported missing, According to the Red Crosswhich helps track down the victim.

Video taken from the crime scene showed officers in hazmat suits dragging body bags as they scoured areas of the forest cordoned off with yellow tape.

Kenyan Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki called the discovery a “massacre” for Kenya Statement posted to Twitter Sunday, adding that it exposed “the most glaring abuse of the constitutional human right to freedom of belief”.

Mr Kindiki added in his post that a security team had been deployed to help cordon off the entire 800-acre forest for an investigation. The team of experts deployed by the National Police also includes forensic investigators and homicide detectives.

Mr MacKenzie was also arrested in late March in connection with the deaths of two children. In a statement issued by Mr Combe on Monday, the children were “allegedly starved to death in accordance with instructions given by Paul Mackenzie, which required them to fast to death in order to communicate with their Creator.” Meet.”

“We asked for an autopsy, but nothing came of it,” said Walid Sketty, 28, of Haki, a human rights group that works to assist victims of the Holocaust. .

In a telephone interview, Mr. Sketty said he had tried to tour Mr. MacKenzie’s residence with several colleagues after he was arrested in late March. “We suspected there were other people on the land and we wanted to see if there was anyone we could help,” he said, adding that he was turned away by a group of men with machetes.

“We are now blaming the government for lack of intelligence,” Mr Sketty said. “This is a human rights issue: States have a duty to ensure that their lives are not taken – regardless of their beliefs or background.”

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