In Kenya, a new step in the investigation into the Shakahola massacre has just been reached. On November 20, 2023, the prosecution announced that it had identified 131 children who died in this tragic episode. Since April, 428 bodies have been dug up in the Shakahola forest, in the southeast of the country, where followers of the International Church of Good News gathered. His pastor, Paul Mackenzie, preached an extreme youth form of joining Jesus.
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With our correspondent in Nairobi, Gaëlle Laleix
A crucial step has just been taken, according to deputy prosecutor Jami Yamina. In all, 184 remains of children were exhumed from the Shakahola forest. Investigators were able to find the identities of two-thirds of these victims. “ It now remains to associate each name with the bodies found in the morgue. », Continues the deputy prosecutor.
Because it is painstaking work that the investigators do. The leaders of the sect took great care to destroy the slightest document that could allow the identification of its followers. And DNA analyses, given the state of decomposition of the bodies, are difficult to carry out.
Prove “they weren’t in heaven”
According to the deputy prosecutor, the 66 survivors of the sect did not deny the evidence when the names of the child victims were presented to them. Some even defied justice to “ prove they weren’t in heaven “.
Alongside Paul Mackenzie, 28 other defendants will be tried in this case. Thanks to the identification of the victims, the deputy prosecutor believes that he will soon be able to state the charges against them. Until then, the defendants remain in pre-trial detention.
In April 2023, a mass grave was discovered in the Shakahola forest, near the commune of Malindi, on the coast. This forest was home to followers of the International Church of Good News. His pastor, Paul Mackenzie, preached extreme youth to join Jesus. Today nearly 430 bodies have been dug up.