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Kenya's "Shakahola Massacre": organs missing from some bodies, investigators say

Body bags are laid out at the scene where dozens of bodies have been...   -  
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A group of people who were killed in a forest in southeastern Kenya by an evangelical sect that practices extreme fasting have had their organs removed from some of their bodies, according to a court document seen by AFP on Tuesday.

More than a hundred bodies, including a majority of children, have so far been found in the investigation of the "Shakahola forest massacre", the revelation of which has caused horror and incomprehension in this religious country of East Africa.

According to the autopsies performed on 112 bodies, most of the victims died of hunger, probably after having followed the preaching of Paul Nthenge Mackenzie, a self-proclaimed pastor of the International Church of Good News who advocated fasting "to meet Jesus".

Some of the victims - including children - were, however, strangled, beaten or suffocated, the head of forensic operations, Dr. Johansen Oduor, said last week.

"Autopsy reports have noted missing organs on some of the bodies of victims that have so far been exhumed," reveals a court document consulted Tuesday by AFP, referring to "a well-coordinated trafficking of human organs involving several actors," without further details.

In this document dated Monday, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) requests the freezing of bank accounts of Pastor Ezekiel Odero, arrested on April 28 in this case and released on bail on Thursday.

According to the DCI, the influential pastor received "huge cash transactions" from congregants who had asked Mackenzie to sell their properties.

A Nairobi court on Monday ordered the freezing of more than 20 accounts belonging to Ezekiel Odero for 30 days.

The search for bodies and mass graves, suspended due to bad weather, resumed Tuesday in the Shakahola forest.

"Efforts to search and rescue people (...) are continuing," said Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki, who was present at the scene.

Pastor Mackenzie will be prosecuted for "terrorism," prosecutors announced on May 2.

A court in Mombasa, Kenya's second-largest city, is expected to rule Wednesday on whether to extend his detention for another 90 days.

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