The leader of a deadly cult Paul Mackenzie, his wife Rhoda Maweu and 17 other persons will remain in police custody for another six days, the Mombasa court ruled.
They are being held in connection with the deaths of 242 people who have been exhumed from Shakahola forest, Kilifi after starving to death and being hit and strangled.
The group was brought back to court Friday after spending 30 days in police custody.
The Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Friday, June 2 requested the court to allow to continue holding the suspects for another 60 days.
Senior Prosecution Counsel Jami Yamina told the Shanzu Magistrate Court that they require more time to continue holding the suspects.
“There still exist compelling reasons to deny the respondents bail pending completion of the investigations and charges.
The evidence gathered demonstrates a high likelihood of serious charges against the accused buttressed by the capital offence for which the state shall persue the maximum sentence available in the books,” said Yamina.
The DPP also filed a new affidavit by investigation officer Inspector Raphael Wanjohi to support the 60-day extension.
However, the defence team led by George Kariuki, opposed the request to extend detention, saying the state ought to have filed a new application.
“In the absence of a new application seeking to continue holding the respondents, then they should be admitted to bond terms or set to liberty as the state continues with its investigations,” said Kairuki.
Shanzu Senior Principal Magistrate Yusuf Shikanda ruled that the State is right to request additional days.
“The respondents have failed to demonstrate any prejudice they will suffer in any way. Therefore, the objection is dismissed,” ruled Shikanda.
He said he will allow the defence team the six-day period to file responses to the request by the DPP.
“I, therefore, find it illogical for their release pending the responses from their legal counsels. In the meantime, they will stay in remand until Wednesday,” said Shikanda.
The matter will be mentioned on June 7.
The accused are facing serious crimes of murder, counselling and aiding persons to kill themselves, aiding suicide, abduction, radicalisation, genocide, crimes against humanity, child cruelty, fraud and money laundering.
Mackenzie and his co-accused are facing charges under the Terrorism Act for suspected cultic activities that have led to the exhumation of over 100 bodies in Shakahola.
The exhumation of bodies from 20 identified graves is ongoing.
The entire 50,000-acre Chakama ranch remains a security area and scene of the crime with limited access for all persons who are unauthorised.
Dozens more bodies are believed to be buried in shallow graves therein.
Mackenzie, who is in police custody, is being investigated for influencing his followers to starve to death in order to meet their maker.
Police also suspect that some of the victims did not starve to death and may have been killed and then buried on the property.
He has denied wrongdoing but has been refused bail. He insists that he shut down his church in 2019.
The followers say he told them to starve themselves in order to “meet Jesus“.