Kenyan President Sets Up Inquiry Into Religious Cult Deaths

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Kenyan President William Ruto appointed a commission of inquiry into the deaths of more than 100 people believed to have starved themselves to death, while a court ordered that the cult leader remain in prison.

The commission of inquiry, announced on Friday by presidential spokesman Hussein Mohamed, will examine whether administrative or intelligence ‘lapses’ contributed to the deaths.

Kenyan authorities have said “the dead were members of the Good News International Church led by Paul Mackenzie, who they said predicted the world would end on April 15 and instructed his followers to kill themselves to be the first to go to heaven.

The death toll stands at 111 but could rise further in one of the worst cult-related disasters in recent history.

Mohamed said Ruto had also appointed a task force to review regulations governing religious organisations.

Mackenzie has not commented publicly on the accusations against him, nor has he been required to enter a plea to any criminal charge. His lawyer, George Kariuki, told the press on Tuesday that his client could face “possible terrorism charges.

Mackenzie appeared in court in the port city of Mombasa on Friday, where prosecutors asked a judge to hold him for an additional 90 days as their investigation continued.

The judge said he would deliver a ruling next Wednesday on the prosecution’s request and ordered that Mackenzie remain in custody until then.



Aljazeera/Shakirat Sadiq