Two Solai Dam suspects challenge manslaughter charges

Some of the suspects in the Solai Dam tragedy at a Naivasha court on July 9, 2018. /COURTESY
Some of the suspects in the Solai Dam tragedy at a Naivasha court on July 9, 2018. /COURTESY

Two suspects in the Solai dam case have now filed a petition at the High court seeking a review of the manslaughter and neglect of duty charges that they are facing at the Naivasha law courts.

Johnson Njuguna - director of water in Nakuru county government and Luka Kipyegen - Rongai sub-county administrator, are accusing the DPP of unfairly targeting them.

The two are part of the nine suspects who have been charged with 48 counts of manslaughter and failing to prepare an environmental impact assessment report of the dam.

The suspects faced a 50th count of neglect of duty and have since .

Others charged in the case include Perry Manusukh Kanasagara - the owner of Patel farm, his manager and five other government officers.

A day to the pre-trial (Friday), the county workers averred that the charges preferred against them could taint their reputation.

They have accused the DPP of preferring criminal charges against them terming this as a violation of the right to fair administrative action as there was no basis in the charges.

"The decision by the DPP is in violation of the provisions of the fair administrative Actions Act as the decision is not lawful, reasonable and procedurally fair,"

the petition reads in part.

Through their lawyer Lawrence Kariuki, the defendants noted that the DPP was abusing his powers in preferring the manslaughter charges against them.

"There is no mandate vested in the office of the DPP and it will be unfair to drag the accused through prosecution only to be acquitted," the petitioners say.

They have further argued that the duty of regulating the use of water is exercised by the Water Resource Authority (WRA) and not the county government.

"There is no involvement of the county director of water or sub-county administrator in the regulation of water or inspection of water permits."

They have noted that if found guilty on the count of neglect of duty, they are liable to a jail term of not exceeding two years which is not an easy fete.

"The actions of the DPP are tainted with irrationality, unreasonable and procedural impropriety and the intervention of this court is necessary."

In his submission, the lawyer called on High court judge Richard Mwongo to listen and determine the petition before the main case starts.

He said that the case had drawn wide public interest adding that the court should give a clear direction before the trial began.

The application will be heard on August 14.