Kenya cult leader detention makes history – judge

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MOMBASA, Kenya: Kenyan cult leader Paul Mackenzie has been handed the longest pre-charge court-approved detention in the country’s history, following an extension of his stay in prison, a judge has said.

Mr Mackenzie has already been in custody for more than three months.

On Thursday, the court allowed the state to detain him and his suspected accomplices for 47 more days. Delivering his ruling at a court in the coastal Mombasa city, magistrate Yusuf Shikanda explained that the drastic decision was necessitated by the complex and unique nature of the case.

“This has to be the longest pre-charge detention sanctioned by the court in the history of Kenya,” he said.

He added: “The Shakahola saga is one of a kind. It has caused great social panic both nationally and internationally”. Mr Mackenzie has been in detention on suspicion of leading a starvation cult that killed 427 of his church members.

However, the death toll is expected to rise as the Kenyan government continues the exhumation of bodies from the coastal Shakahola Forest, which served as the cult’s hideout.

The prosecution has argued that the extended detention was necessary as the state cannot not bring charges until the government exhumes all bodies and conducts DNA tests to ascertain their identities.

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