Paul Makenzi, 95 accomplices face murder charges over Shakahola deaths

Pastor Paul Mackenzie and his accomplices Robert Kahindi, Alfred Asena, and Sanga Stephen Muye in court on Monday, April 17, 2023. [Marion Kithi, Standard]

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (ODPP) in Kenya has charged preacher Paul Makenzi and 95 of his followers with murder over the Shakahola massacre.

The tragic event, claiming the lives of 429 individuals, is now at the forefront of legal proceedings following extensive investigations and evidence analysis.

In a press statement released on Tuesday, January 16, the ODPP outlined the various charges brought against Makenzi and his accomplices.

These include murder under the Penal Code (Section 203), assault causing bodily harm (Section 251), contraventions of the Prevention of Terrorism Act and Prevention of Organized Crimes Act, and manslaughter accusations (Section 202 with 205).

"Upon perusal of all the inquiry files and thorough analysis of the evidence, the ODPP is satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to charge all the 95 suspects who are currently in custody with the following offences," the statement read in part.

Furthermore, the suspects face accusations of radicalization under Section 12D of the Prevention of Terrorism Act of 2012.

The ODPP emphasises the urgency of these proceedings, stating, "The DPP has therefore directed that the suspects be presented before the High Court and Subordinate Court forthwith. The ODPP undertakes to expeditiously prosecute the matters in view of the great public interest involved.”

It's worth noting that Makenzi was previously sentenced to a year and a half in prison on December 1, 2023, for illegally distributing unrated films during his radical sermons. He also received a six-month sentence for operating a film studio without a valid license.

The Shakahola massacre sparked outrage and grief across Kenya, making the ODPP's announcement a crucial step towards closure and accountability.

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