Mackenzie turns down Senate summons

Suspected Kilifi cult leader Paul Mackenzie has stated that he will not appear before the Senate Committee on Proliferation of Religious Organizations, which is investigating the mass murder of hundreds of people in the Shakahola forest.

Through his lawyer Wycliffe Makasembo, Mackenzie informed the Shanzu court that he is not prepared to present himself before any committee until he has resolved the criminal case currently pending in court. The Senate Committee is chaired by Tana River Senator Danson Mungatana.

“I want to inform Senator Danson Mungatana that we will not appear before any Senate Committee until we have concluded this criminal case before Senior Principal Magistrate Yussuf Shikanda. He should not waste his time,” said Mr Makasembo.

Nation confirmed that the Ad Hoc Committee had summoned Mackenzie.

In a telephone interview on Thursday,  Mr Mungatana said Mackenzie is expected to appear before the committee on Friday under the guard of prison officers.

“We have summoned him to appear before us tomorrow (Friday). The committee has expressed the need to speak with him. We are waiting to see if the prison officers will bring him to us or not. We are waiting for him,” said Mr Mungatana.

However, the magistrate did not comment on the issue of the senate summoning Mackenzie when the case was mentioned in court.

The court granted Mackenzie and the other 28 suspects seven days to respond to an application by the state seeking to detain them for an additional six months pending the completion of investigations.

This is after Mr Makasembo requested more time to file the response, stating that his doctor had advised him to take a bed rest.

“I have fully recovered, but I have not yet filed a response to the state’s application. I have consulted with my clients and Assistant Director of Public Prosecution Jami Yamina, and we have mutually agreed that I be given a week to file and serve the response,” said the advocate.

Both the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Attorney General (AG), along with other parties involved in the case, did not object to Mackenzie’s request for an extension.

The court was also informed that the probation office has completed the social inquiry for 26 respondents, and the report for the remaining three is in its final stages.

The court had ordered a social inquiry to be conducted on all the respondents, and a report was to be filed in court.

The court has further directed that a report on the investigations conducted by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) regarding complaints of mistreatment of Mackenzie and his group be provided to both the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) and the AG.

This is after Litigation Counsel Emmanuel Makuto said the AG had not been supplied with the report for him to comment on the findings of the KNCHR document.

The state has requested an extension of time by six months to detain the respondents to finalise investigation.

This additional time will be used to carry out the necessary scientific processes for identifying the 429 bodies that were exhumed from Shakahola forest.

During the court proceedings, it was revealed that approximately 360 bodies were severely decomposed, resulting in highly degraded DNA material. This degradation has affected the quality and quantity of the DNA samples required to generate complete DNA profiles.

It was also mentioned that the extraction of DNA material from bones can take anywhere from two to 14 days per sample, depending on the level of decomposition.

The state has also argued that evidence obtained through the scientific process is crucial for identifying the victims and deceased individuals. This identification is crucial in initiating proper criminal charges against the respondents and ensuring that justice is served to both the victims and the suspects.

The state emphasized that victim identification is critical due to the various causes of death among the victims. According to the latest data, 214 deaths were caused by starvation, 39 by asphyxia, 14 by head injuries, while the cause of death for 115 remains unknown. Other deaths were attributed to different causes.

The court was informed that a total of 187 children lost their lives in the Shakahola tragedy.

Additionally, the court has heard that Mackenzie and his associates destroyed the belongings of the victims, including birth certificates and identification documents, before burying them in the forest. The case will be mentioned on October 19.


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