Patel farm owner seeks court nod to travel abroad as state opposes bid

Patel farm owner Perry Mansukh with his lawyers at the Naivasha law court on Tuesday, September 11, 2018. /GEORGE MURAGE
Patel farm owner Perry Mansukh with his lawyers at the Naivasha law court on Tuesday, September 11, 2018. /GEORGE MURAGE

The owner of Patel farm where 48 persons died after a dam burst its banks on May 8 has gone to court seeking to travel out of the country once again.

Perry Mansukh, who was out of the country last month, is seeking that his passport be returned to enable him to travel to India for one week.

The businessman, according to documents filed in court, wants to visit his son from his estranged marriage in New Delhi India between September 13 -18.

However, State Counsel Victor Owiti accused the suspect, who is facing 48 charges of manslaughter, of setting a bad precedent.

He noted that the documents presented in court showed that the businessman had already acquired a plane ticket meaning that he was sure that the court would heed to his demands.

Owiti told the court that another civil matter had been filed at the Environmental Court in Narok and the judge was expected to give his ruling on September 12.

"The ruling by the High Court seating in Narok would affect the ongoing trial and plans by the accused to travel out of the country and hence the need to wait," he told the court.

Lawyer Bosek Kimutai, who was appearing for the victims of the dam tragedy, backed the state counsel's argument saying the accused is a flight risk.

He noted that the charges facing the trader and eight others could end up in life sentences, a move that could prompt Mansukh to flee the country.

"The families affected by the tragedy are still suffering but the main suspect is flying from one country to the other despite the magnitude of the charges facing him," he told the court.

However, lawyer Boniface Masinde of the accused termed him as innocent until proven otherwise adding that he had in the past travelled and returned to the country.

He told the court that Mansukh had investments worth billions of shillings and could not risk running away as alleged.

Naivasha principal magistrate Joseph Karanja directed that the court would have to wait for the ruling by the High court sitting in Narok before reviewing the application.

The case will come up for ruling on September 14.

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