48 PEOPLE KILLED IN TRAGEDY

DPP now wants Solai Dam suspects charged afresh

Defence has opposed the application, say the state wants to ambush the accused with new allegations

In Summary

• High Court in April ordered fresh trial after a magistrate had acquitted the accused.

• The defence accused the prosecution of ambushing them by introducing an application to charge afresh.

Solai Dam suspects Johnson Njuguna and Perry Manusukh confer with lawyer Fredrick Masinde at the Naivasha law courts
Solai Dam suspects Johnson Njuguna and Perry Manusukh confer with lawyer Fredrick Masinde at the Naivasha law courts
Image: GEORGE MURAGE

The DPP now wants nine suspects in the Solai Dam tragedy that killed 48 people in Nakuru in 2018 charged afresh.

But the defence has opposed the application by the Director of Public Prosecutions saying they have been ambushed. The High Court in April ordered a fresh trial. The DPP's application was made as the trial began in Naivasha.

The order for a fresh trial was made by High Court Judge Richard Mwongo in April just a month after a lower court had set the suspects free for lack of ‘willingness’ and support from the DPP's office.

Mwongo termed the magistrate's ruling as defective and an injustice to the victims of the tragedy adding that the interests of the victims and their suffering had not been considered while acquitting the suspects.

The judge noted that the victims who were seeking justice had been left ‘high and dry’ and that the lower court did not exercise its powers as per the Constitution.

And as the case started afresh before Naivasha senior resident magistrate Lyna Sarapai, the defence accused the prosecution of ambushing them by introducing an application to charge them afresh.

Through lawyer Francis Mburu, the suspects said they were in the dark as to what the prosecution intended to charge them with. Mburu told the court that the High Court ruling did not direct that the accused be charged afresh. He asked that the old charges and bond terms be retained.

“There is no need for this court to take another plea as this was done by the previous court and we fear that the prosecution could ambush us with new charges,” Mburu said.

State prosecutor Alex Muteti in his application had sought to slap fresh charges on the suspects, saying the previous ones had been declared null and void by the High Court ruling.

Muteti denied that the prosecution would be seeking fresh bond terms, adding that the rights of the accused would not be threatened.

In the case, the farm owner Perry Manusukh and others are charged with 48 counts of manslaughter on May 9, 2018 in Solai, Nakuru county and failing to prepare an environmental impact assessment report.

The other eight are Vinoj Jaya Kumar, Johnson Njuguna, Luka Kipyegen, Winnie Muthoni, Jacinta Were, Tomkin Odo Odhiambo, Willie Omondi and Lynette Cheruiyot.

The magistrate will make a ruling on October 28.

 

Edited by P.O