48 KILLED WHEN DAM BURST

DPP appeals Solai dam acquittals

DPP accused of shoddy work, victims blame prosecution for collapse of case

In Summary

• The magistrate had accused the DPP of frustrating the case. Since the case stared no witness or witness statement was on produced.

• The Office of DPP has on several occasions failed to appear in court. Victims blame he DPP for the collapse of the case.

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

The Director of Public Prosecutions has appealed against the acquittal of nine suspects charged with the deaths of 48 people in the Solai Dam tragedy

Release of the suspects by a magistrate's court and collapse of the much-publicised case have cast the DPP's office in a bad light and caused public outrage

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions questioned the magistrate's ruling on February 3.

 

The DPP told the High Court the lower court had erred as the list of those set free by the court included a suspect whose name was substituted before the case started.

State counsel Catherine Mwaniki told High Court judge Richard Mwongo the released person was Julius Kavita.

She said the charges facing Kavita, who was the then Solai subcounty commissioner, were dropped and his name was substituted with the that of subcounty administrator Luka Kipyegon.

“As per the ruling by the lower court, one of the released suspects was Julius Kavita yet he was not in the list of the accused persons and we shall rely on this in our submissions,” he said.

Mwaniki told the court that victims of the tragedy, which left tens homeless and poor, had not been heard.

Speaking on behalf of the defence team, advocate Fredrick Masinde called for time to file their response following the DPP's appeal.

“We have not been served by a notice by the State counsel and parties in this case [who] want to be heard orally during the hearing date,” he said.

 

Judge Mwongo had ordered a stay of the ruling. He directed that all parties file their response by  February 13. The hearing of the appeal will be on February 18.

The move comes barely two weeks after Naivasha chief magistrate Kennedy Bidali set the nine free for lack of ‘willingness’ and support from the DPP's office in prosecuting the case.

While acquitting the suspects, the magistrate noted that 18 months since the case started, the office of the DPP had failed to produce a single witness or witness statement.

In the case, Perry Manusukh Kanasagara the farm owner and the others had been charged with 48 counts of manslaughter for the May 9, 2018, Solai dam collapse and failing to prepare an environmental impact assessment report.

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

(Edited by V. Graham)