Victims' families protest plan to drop murder charges in gold mine tragedy

DCI team concluded investigation into the blast at the Karebe Gold mines tunnels set off by illegal miners.

In Summary

• KHC representing victims protests the decision to withdraw murder charges.

• Mining firm and victims demand letter explaining why charges wee to be withdrawn.  were to be withdraw. Magistrate to rule on April 11.

Kapsabet chief magistrate Samuel Mokua in the courtroom.
GOLD MINE DEATHS: Kapsabet chief magistrate Samuel Mokua in the courtroom.

Furious protests have greeted the state's decision on Friday not to charge 10 suspects with murder in the deaths of three men last month in the Karebe Gold mines in Nandi.

Six other miners were seriously injured in the blast on January 23.

State counsel Brenda Oduor told the court she had been directed by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions by phone that the office intended to withdraw the application and not charge the suspects.

The case before Kapsabet chief magistrate Samuel Mokua had placed the suspects at the murder scene on the January 23 at the Karebe Gold mines.

Lawyers from the Kenya Human Rights Commission representing victims and of the mining company protested what they termed a “verbal decision”. They demanded a written statement from DPP Noordin Haji.

The KHRC team led by Festus Mbati, Brian Olang’,  Jacob Ngwele and Abner Mango for the worker employer, Karebe Gold mines, told the court that DPP must write to the court explaining the reason for the intended withdrawal.

“Three people lost their lives while six others suffered serious injuries. DCI investigators did their thorough work and placed the suspects before this court at the scene of murder,” Mbati said.

“Now that the ODDP has decided not to charge them with the murder, he has a duty to explain to the victims the reasons that guided him to such a conclusion," Mbai said.

Referring to recent decision by the DPP to withdraw charges against former Interior CS Fred Matiang’i, Mbati said Haji wrote to provide reasons for withdrawal. In the case of the gold minors, he just made a call.

Kapsabet law courts.
MINERS DIE: Kapsabet law courts.

“While prosecuting criminals was a preserve of the ODPP, the 2010 Constitution provides leeway for citizens to seek justice through “a private prosecution”, Mbati said.

He pleaded with the court not to accept the withdrawal through “a phone call” but demand a written statement from the DPP.

“This matter has a lot of public interest across the nation because we do not want impunity. Karebe Gold mines lost three experienced miners while six others were nursing injuries. They are seeking justice from the courts,” Olang' told the court.

The suspects are represented by R. Kinyanjui who declared the ODPP decision as "perfect", demanding his clients be refunded their bail money.

Mokua said he would make a ruling in April 11 and the suspects should continue making weekly reports at the Chemase police station.

(Edited by V. Graham)

WATCH: The latest videos from the Star