Grief gives way to anger as Kenyan starvation cult leader faces trial

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Kenyan teenager Samuel was initially excited to leave his home in the coastal town of Malindi along with his mother and brother to follow their church leader into the east African nation’s remote Shakahola forest.

But his hopes for a new life were dashed shortly after they arrived at the sprawling and isolated site where Christian cult leader Paul Mackenzie had bought 800 acres of land.

“We were told, ‘You’ll never get out, and if you dare to try we’ll discipline you’,” Samuel, now 22, said. “If I hadn’t been rescued, I could have died.”

Samuel — not his real name, as he requested anonymity — was part of a sect that told followers they should fast until they died, in return for salvation. The Good News International Church centred around Mackenzie drove at least 429 people to their deaths, according to officials. Hundreds died from starvation, while others were killed by the pastor’s henchmen and other church members. Many were children. 

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