Paul Mackenzie, leader of the Good News International Church, has been accused of ordering his followers to starve their children and themselves to death.
The number of victims of a hunger cult in Kenya’s Shakahola forest has risen to 201 after 22 more bodies were recovered, according to a regional government official.
“Our forensic team was able to exhume 22 bodies today, but we have not reported any rescue,” Rhodah Onyancha, a regional commissioner, told reporters on Saturday.
This week authorities dug up shallow graves scattered in the forest looking for remains and scoured the area for any survivors as hundreds of people were reported missing.
Paul Mackenzie, leader of the Good News International Church, has been accused of ordering his followers to starve their children and themselves to death so they can go to heaven before the end of the world, which he predicts will happen on April 15 .
The taxi driver turned preacher was denied bail on Wednesday by a Kenyan court.
Onyancha said one more suspect has also been arrested, bringing the total number of those detained in the dead to 26.
On Friday, 29 bodies were exhumed, including 12 children found in a grave.
Kenyan President William Ruto has appointed a commission to investigate the deaths of more than 100 people who are believed to have starved themselves to death, while a court ordered that the cult leader remain in prison.
The commission of inquiry will investigate whether administrative or intelligence lapses contributed to the death.
Presidential spokesperson Hussein Mohamed said Ruto has also appointed a task force to review regulations governing religious organisations.
Mackenzie has not commented publicly on the accusations against him and has not had to enter a plea to any criminal charges. His lawyer George Kariuki told the press on Tuesday that his client could face “possible terrorism charges”.
Mackenzie appeared in a Mombasa port court on Friday, where prosecutors asked a judge to detain him for an additional 90 days while their investigation continues.
The judge said he would give a decision next Wednesday on the prosecution’s request and ordered Mackenzie to remain in custody until then.
Mackenzie, wearing a black and pink jacket and holding her two-year-old daughter during the hearing, told reporters in court that she and some of her supporters were denied food in the prison.
The prosecutors denied this and his lawyer told the press on Tuesday that his client was eating.