Two pastors were appearing before Kenyan courts on Tuesday suspected of being behind the deaths of at least 109 people buried in what has been dubbed the “Shakahola forest massacre”.

The deeply religious Christian-majority country has been stunned by the discovery of mass graves last month in a forest near the Indian Ocean coastal town of Malindi.

Self-proclaimed pastor Paul Nthenge Mackenzie, who set up the Good News International Church in 2003 and is accused of inciting cult followers to starve to death “to meet Jesus”, appeared in the dock in Malindi.

The small courtroom was packed with relatives of victims as about half a dozen police officers brought in Mackenzie along with eight other defendants.

Wearing a pink and black jacket and brown trousers, Mackenzie conferred with his lawyer George Kariuki, who told AFP: “We have not been told what application the prosecution wants to make. We are just waiting to see.

A total of 109 people have so far been confirmed dead, most of them children. The first autopsies from Shakahola were carried out Monday on nine children and one woman.

They confirmed starvation as the cause of death, though some victims were asphyxiated, the authorities said.




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