Mackenzie And Team Deny 191 Murder Charges

Controversial preacher Paul Nthenge Mackenzie and 29 of his close associates on Tuesday denied 191 counts of murder in relation to the infamous Shakahola massacre. The 30 appeared before High Court Judge Mugure Thande and denied murdering 191 children, most of whom were unidentified, a crime the state says was committed between the years 2021 and 2023 at the Shakahola forest in Kilifi County. One of the suspects, Evans Kolombe Sirya, did not however take plea as a psychiatrist's report indicated that he was mentally ill was not fit to stand trial. Deputy Director of Public Prosecution Victor Mule told the court Mr. Sirya would continue undergoing mental treatment for 30 days after which he would be re-examined to establish if he will be fit to take the plea. 'We are ready to proceed with plea taking for all the accused persons except the fourth (Sirya), said Mr. Mule. However, Mr. Mouko urged the court to allow the defence to have its own doctor examine the accused persons, arguing that the suspect had n o health issues when he was arrested. 'I am not a doctor, but from just looking at him, he is suffering from a stroke and that does not amount to being mentally ill,' Mr. Mouko said. Those who took plea included Mackenzie, Smart Deri Mwakalama, Stephen Sanga Muye, Kelvin Sudi Asena, Stephen Ominde Lwangu, Enos Amanya, Julius Katana Kazungu, Charles Kalume Charo, Michael Mweri Baya, Titus Munyao Musyoka, Ernest Safari Kazungu, David Ambwaya Amanya, Emmanuel Amani Kilumo, Baba Noah, Joseph Bokole Bimramba and Newton Kimathi Ikunda. Others were Robert Kahindi Katana, Alex Munangwe Odari, Lucas Owino Ogola, Mark Kiogora Kiara, Maurice Machacha, Mary Kadzo Kahindi, Simon Musembi Munyoki, Mwinzi Kavenge, Gilbert Kea Katana, Steven Ngugi Kiko, Edison Safari Mnyambo, Alfonze Chomba Eliud, Amani Samuel Kenga, Anne Anyoso Alukhwe and Peter Ramadhani Kahaso. Lady Justice Thande ordered the accused persons to continue being remanded at the Shimo la Tewa Maximum Prison until March 7, 2024 when the case will come up to determine the outcome of a preliminary objection filed by defence lawyer James Mouko. In his application, Mr. Mouko argues that the charge sheet was erroneous as it contained 191 counts as opposed to the required 12 per charge sheet as ruled by the court of appeal in another case. Lady Justice Mugure said application for bond would be made after the determination of the preliminary objection, although Mr. Victor Owiti for the prosecution indicated that the state would oppose bail. The judge ordered the authorities as the Shimo la Tewa Maximum Prison to allow female accused persons in the case to have their hair cut. The defence team had complained that female accused persons had been denied access to a barber. Lady Justice Thande also ordered the authorities at the Kilifi and Malindi GK to transfer the personal effects (clothes, tooth pastes etc) to the Shimo la Tewa Maximum Prison where the suspects are currently being held. She declined an application by Mr. Mouko, who asked the court to order the tran sfer of the four accused persons he represents to the Malindi GK Prison where it will be easier for him to get instructions from his clients. She said it was more convenient for the lawyer to travel to Shimo la Tewa prison than for the accused persons to be transported to Malindi to record statements with the lawyer. Due to the large number of charges and accused persons, they pleaded to the charges in unison (in a chorus) despite Mackenzie's request that all the accused persons be required to plead individually. On his preliminary objection to the number of counts on the charge sheet, said that both the defence and prosecution had agreed to file written responses, although they differed on the duration, with the defence seeking seven days and the prosecution saying it would do so in 14 days. Mr. Wycliff Makasembo, who said he was representing all the accused persons urged the prosecution to furnish the defence with certified witness statements, photographs and scientific reports they intend to use in the case to enable his team to prepare for the case. Source: Kenya News Agency