Paul Mackenzie and 94 others have been charged with terrorism following the deaths of 429 people. The defendants all denied the charges, which were read out in a magistrate’s court in Malindi, southeastern Kenya.
The Kenyan cult leader is alleged to have encouraged members of his Good News International Church to move to Shakahola Forest and prepare for the end of the world. Hundreds would later die.
Other charges relating to child torture and assault are due to be brought at a separate court hearing.
In April 2023, Mackenzie was detained after bodies were found in mass graves in a remote forest about an hour’s drive from the coastal town of Malindi. Most showed signs of starvation, but some—children among them—may have been assaulted, according to media reports.
The self-proclaimed pastor denies responsibility for the deaths, saying his church has been closed since 2019.
The request by the suspects’ defense lawyer for bail has been referred to another court.
Earlier on Wednesday, Paul Mackenzie and 30 of his followers were presented in a Kenyan court in the coastal town of Malindi to face charges of murdering 191 children.
Mackenzie and the other suspects did not enter pleas because High Court Judge Mugure Thande granted a request from prosecutors that they undergo mental assessments and return to court on February 6.
The remains of 180 of the 191 dead children have not been identified, according to the prosecution’s charge sheet.
Mackenzie and some of his followers have been blamed for the deaths of 429 members of his Good News International Church, many of whom are believed to have starved themselves in the belief that by doing so they would meet Jesus Christ before the world ends.
The bodies were discovered in dozens of shallow graves on an 800-acre (320-hectare) ranch in a remote area known as Shakahola Forest in the coastal county of Kilifi.