Kenyan cult leader sentenced to 18 months for film violations

1 December 2023, 19:44

Kenya Cult Leader
Kenya Cult Leader. Picture: PA

The preacher was arrested in April in connection with the discovery of more than 400 bodies in mass graves on his church property.

The leader of a doomsday cult in Kenya was sentenced on Friday to 18 months in prison for the illegal distribution of films and operating a film studio without licences.

The senior magistrate in the city of Malindi, Olga Onalo, handed down the sentence for Paul Mackenzie. The controversial preacher can appeal within 14 days.

Mackenzie was found guilty last month of the exhibition of films through his Times Television network without approval of the Kenya Film Classification Board, in charges dating back to 2019.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges saying he did not know he required a licence to distribute films.

Kenya Cult Leader
Preacher Pastor Paul Nthenge Mackenzie, right, arrives at court (Gideon Maundu/AP)

Mackenzie had been accused of using the TV channel and his sermons to radicalise children and their parents against western education and medicine.

Prosecutors also alleged that some of his followers had refused to go to school or attend hospitals when sick. He was acquitted of those charges.

The preacher has been in police custody since April, when he was arrested in connection with the discovery of more than 400 bodies in mass graves on his church property.

He has not been formally charged over the deaths.

Prosecutors allege Mackenzie ordered hundreds of his congregants to starve themselves to death in order to meet Jesus.

The state last month applied to continue holding Mackenzie and his co-accused in custody for six more months, as investigations continue.

Fresh graves were discovered in November at his 800-acre property, but authorities have not said when exhumation of the bodies will be undertaken, with many of Mackenzie’s followers still reported missing.

By Press Association

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