Home NEWS County News Shakahola Massacre: Court declines to free Mackenzie, 38 others

Shakahola Massacre: Court declines to free Mackenzie, 38 others

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A Mombasa court on Thursday declined to grant bond to controversial Pastor Paul Mackenzie and 38 others, who are parents of children victims rescued from the Shakahola forest.

The Tononoka Children’s Court Principal Magistrate Hon Nelly Chepchirchir ruled that the prosecution has advanced compelling reasons against the accused persons to interfere with children witnesses.

Hon. Chepchirchir stated that Article 53 of the constitution and Children Act 2022 require the best interest of the child to be given paramount in criminal cases.

“It should not be lost on the parties in this matter that this is a matter where all the victims are children. Article 53 of the Constitution demands that the best interests of a child should be paramount in every matter involving a child and this matter is not an exception”

The court conceded with the Prosecution submission that Mackenzie and his co-accused in the Shakahola massacre have strong influence and control of the children rescued in the massacre, who are potential witnesses in the case.

“Having considered the nature of offences that the accused persons are charged with and the need to safeguard the best interests of the children who are witnesses in this matter and whom the accused may or have authority over, I find that these are compelling reasons to warrant all the accused persons to be denied bond at this point,”

However, the court indicated that it will expedite hearing of the case to ensure all parties are accorded justice.

Hon. Nelly directed that the pre-trial conference be heard on 23 April 2024, where the physical presence of the accused person has been dispensed with but they can however log in virtually.

Mackenzie and his 38 co-accused were charged with children-related offences such as subjecting children to torture, assault, cruelty to children, and infringing a child’s right to education.

They were charged with 17 counts of offences under the Children Act 2012, the Prevention of Torture Act 2017, and the Basic Education Act 2013.

These charges include two counts of subjecting a child to torture with an alternative count of assault causing actual bodily harm, nine charges of cruelty to a child, and six counts of infringing a child’s right to education.

All 39 accused persons denied all the charges levelled against them.

The accused persons allegedly committed the offences on unknown dates between 2019 and 2023 at Shakahola Forest, Kilifi County.

The prosecution team include Deputy Director of Public Prosecution, Mr. Victor Mule; Senior Assistant Director of Public Prosecution, Mr. Peter Kiprop; Principal Prosecution Counsels Victor Owiti and Betty Rubia; and Prosecution Counsels Eunice Odongo and Biasha Khalifa.

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