On Monday, pathologists began tests on more than 100 bodies that were linked to a Kenyan religious cult. The cult’s leader is said to have told his followers to starve themselves to death so they could be the first to go to heaven.
We know that 109 people who were members of the Good News International Church in the Shakahola Forest in east Kenya died.
Since April 21, police have found 101 bodies in shallow graves. Eight members of the cult were found living but later died. 44 people have been saved so far.
The number of deaths is one of the worst cult-related tragedies in recent history, and the Kenyan Red Cross says that more than 300 people have been reported missing.
Paul Mackenzie, the leader of a cult, has been in police custody since April 14. He is being held with 14 other people from the group. Kenyan news outlets say that he won’t take food or drink.
The tweet below confirms the news:
Autopsies begin on bodies of Kenyan cult members who starved themselves to death https://t.co/Z3xjGeg9We pic.twitter.com/rhGM2VaoKr
— Reuters (@Reuters) May 1, 2023
Mackenzie hasn’t said anything in public. Reuters talked to two lawyers for Mackenzie, but neither would say anything about the charges against him.
Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki said on Friday that most of the bodies found so far have been children.
The post-mortem tests will be led by Chief Government Pathologist Johansen Oduor.
“The autopsies will be done by teams,” he said at a news gathering.
Kindiki said that the autopsies will look at all options, including whether or not some bodies were missing organs.
Oduor said that the government was getting DNA samples from people who had reported lost family members and that the matching would take at least a month.
On Sunday, President William Ruto said that he would set up a committee of judges to look into what happened in Shakahola this week.
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