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Kenyan court acquits ‘miracle baby’ pastor in trafficking case

File picture of Kenyan preacher Gilbert Deya arriving at Westminster Magistrates Court in 2007
File picture of Kenyan preacher Gilbert Deya arriving at Westminster Magistrates Court in 2007 - Copyright AFP Brendan Smialowski
File picture of Kenyan preacher Gilbert Deya arriving at Westminster Magistrates Court in 2007 - Copyright AFP Brendan Smialowski

A Kenyan court on Monday acquitted a controversial self-styled preacher who claimed he could help infertile couples conceive “miracle babies” through prayer, citing insufficient evidence from prosecutors. 

Gilbert Deya, a former stonemason who moved to London from Kenya in the mid-90s, was accused of stealing five children between 1999 and 2004 to buttress his claims.

Senior Principal Magistrate Robison Ondieki found the 86-year-old not guilty, ruling that the prosecution had not produced enough evidence to link Deya to the charges.

The preacher, whose Gilbert Deya Ministries had churches in London, Birmingham, Nottingham, Liverpool and Manchester, was extradited from Britain to Kenya in 2017 following a decade-long legal battle to remain in the UK.

Deya and his wife Mary claimed their prayers could see infertile and post-menopausal women become pregnant in four months, and without intercourse.

However prosecutors said the “miracle babies” were stolen, mainly from Nairobi’s poor neighbourhoods. 

“The charges were trumped up and could not stand in a court of law,” Deya’s lawyer, John Swaka, told AFP. 

“He is delighted and very happy. He has no squabbles with anyone and will go back to serving the Lord.”

Deya’s claims first came to light in a 2004 case, when a British coroner found that a baby called Sarah, who had died aged three weeks, was not related to either of her supposed parents.

The mother had been told she was infertile, and travelled to Nairobi where she claimed to have given birth, but DNA tests proved otherwise.

The case was the first time in eight centuries that an English coroner had to come to an official view on whether a miracle had taken place.

Deya claims he was ordained as an archbishop by the United Evangelical Churches of America in 1992. He was a popular televangelist in Kenya before moving to Britain.

A predominantly Christian country, Kenya is home to around 4,000 churches, including some run by self-styled pastors with no theological education.

The discovery in April of bodies linked to a Kenyan cult that practised starvation to “meet Jesus Christ” has prompted questions about the need for more regulation of religious outfits in the East African nation.

Nearly 400 bodies have been found so far in the Shakahola forest in coastal Kenya, with cult leader and self-proclaimed pastor Paul Nthenge Mackenzie in police custody since mid-April.

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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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