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Death toll rises to 89 in Kenya’s starvation cult

It may be plausible to charge Paul Mackenzie ‘with genocide at the International Criminal Court,” says interior minister

Andrew Wasike  |

NAIROBI, Kenya – The death toll hit 89 on Tuesday in Kenya’s starvation cult as Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki visited the site where bodies are being exhumed.

Kindiki said he wants Pastor Mackenzie Nthenge charged with genocide.

“It is possible to charge him with genocide at the International Criminal Court. We are also pursuing his known associates,” he said. “This was a misuse of fundamental rights of freedom with the purported use of the Bible to kill and cause a massacre. Those who urged others to fast and die were eating and drinking and they purported to prepare them to meet their creator.”

Kindiki said authorities have cast a wider net to include another religious organization in Kilifi suspected to be a cult and duping Kenyans.

“We have opened a formal inquiry on this religious group and we are getting crucial leads that perhaps what was being done by Mackenzie is the tip of the iceberg,” he added.

Kindiki said as of Tuesday the government has scaled up operations to recover the bodies of those who died from activities of the cult.

“We are increasing the personnel, a multi-agency search and rescue operation will involve all agencies and will be security led,” he said.

Seventeen bodies were exhumed from mass graves on the pastor’s land Tuesday, including a child.

Police have said that with the increasing death toll, more bodies may be found. The Red Cross reported 112 people missing in the area according to their records.

Cult members who died believed that they would meet Jesus if they starved themselves.

Police launched an investigation into the cult following the rescue of emaciated cult members April 14.

Makenzie, who is in police custody, had convinced followers to starve themselves.

Kenyan President William Ruto broke his silence about the deaths Monday, deeming them an act of terrorism.

Authorities said they are working to identify the victims and notify their families.

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