Controversial cleric Paul Mackenzie and his co-accused will remain in custody until 22 December when the court will rule on the state’s application seeking to have the 29 suspects detained for a further 180 days.
In the application, assistant Director of Public prosecutions Jami Yamina has listed what he says are compelling reasons for detention pending completion of investigations arguing that detention is the least restrictive measure pending completion of investigations and charges as the accused pose a suicide risk.
Jami told Shanzu senior Principal Magistrate Yusuf Shikanda that the application is informed by the magnitude and complexity of DNA extraction of severely decomposed bodies exhumed from Shakahola forest.
He further submitted that the investigators are still unravelling the identity of each of the bodies through both scientific and traditional methods of identification to restore their identity and dignity even in death, a last vestige of liberty that he said were taken away by Mackenzie’s crimes.
The court heard that of the 429 bodies, 184 are children of which 131 are sons and daughters of Mackenzie’, his 28 co-suspects together with another 66 before Senior Principal Magistrate Joe Omido .
The deceased died from various causes with the majority from starvation and dehydration while others from strangulation and blunt trauma.
Jami further submitted that if charges were to be properly framed and the case effectively presented, identities of the children and other deceased should appear in the charge sheet and autopsy reports.
The Prosecution opined that the terrorism laws allowed up to 360 days of lawful detention pending completion of investigations and that parliament in its wisdom extended the days from 90 days to 360 days to accommodate complex cases.
Jami also opposed release of six out of 29 Shakahola suspects as recommended in the social inquiry reports conducted by the Probation and Aftercare Services department.
He told Shikakanda the suspects are required to undergo de-radicalization in order for them to be reintegrated into the society and their family members have not provided explanations as to how the six will not harm themselves.
As of Monday (November 20), Mackenzie had already spent 219 days in police and prison custody since his arrest on April 15.
All his associates have also spent over 150 days in custody, apart from his wife Rhodah Mumbua, who is out on 400, 000 shillings bond.
Mackenzie’s lawyer, Wycliff Makasembo on Monday, told the court the continued detention of his clients by the State is tantamount to abuse of their rights.
On September 15, the DPP applied to continue holding cult leader Paul Mackenzie and his co-accused for a further 180 days (six months).
Makasembo while opposing the application for continued detention of the suspects for yet another 180 days, said the application is hinged on rumours and fictitious fears, and therefore should not be allowed by the court.
He said no material had been filed before the Shanzu Magistrate Court, classified as urgent, to warrant continued detention.
“A quick reading of the application shows that the investigators are at a loss. They do not know the specific roles played by each of the accused persons. They do not have any evidence against Mackenzie and his co-accused,” argued Makasembo.
He said the investigation officers ought to tell the court what they have achieved so far in the more than six months they have detained Mackenzie.