A Kenyan judge has mandated that Paul Mackenzie, a cult leader, and 30 associates undergo mental health assessments before facing charges related to the murder of 191 children. The victims’ bodies were exhumed from the Shakahola forest since last April.

Authorities allege that Mackenzie, head of the Good News International Church, instructed followers in south-eastern Kenya to starve themselves and their children, purportedly to ascend to heaven before the world’s end. The exhumations, revealing over 400 bodies across tens of thousands of forest acres, mark one of the world’s most severe cult-related tragedies in recent history.

Prosecutors plan to charge a total of 95 individuals with offenses including murder, manslaughter, terrorism, and torture.

Mackenzie, in custody since the discovery of bodies, is said to be cooperating with the investigation, as mentioned by his lawyer.

During a hearing in Malindi, a coastal town, a judge granted a prosecution request for mental health assessments before formal charges are brought against the 31 defendants in two weeks.

Prosecutors attribute delays in filing charges to the challenging task of locating, exhuming, and autopsying numerous human remains. Some of Mackenzie’s followers were rescued emaciated from the forest.

Insiders familiar with the cult’s activities revealed that Mackenzie orchestrated the mass starvation in three phases: starting with children, followed by women and young men, and concluding with the remaining men. The former taxi driver prohibited cult members from sending their children to school and seeking medical care, denouncing such institutions as Satanic, according to some followers.

Quest: Emmanuel kelvin

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