Kenya

Solai dam tragedy: Victims, suspects blame DPP for delayed trial

Solai dam tragedy: Victims, suspects blame DPP for delayed trial
  • Victims and suspects have both complained about the delayed trial, saying it is yet to begin 18 months later.
  • The hearing has been adjourned for several reasons, leaving victims with little hope that the matter will be concluded.
  • Through lawyers Boniface Masinde and F Mburu, the suspects cited lack of seriousness by the prosecution.

Blame games between suspects and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution have seen the Solai dam tragedy case pushed to next year.

Following the death of at least 48 people after the dam collapsed on May 9, 2019, nine suspects including the dam's owner, Mr Perry Manusukh, have been charged with 48 counts of manslaughter and failing to prepare an environmental impact assessment report.

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

COMPLAINTS

Victims and suspects have both complained about the delayed trial, saying it is yet to begin 18 months later.

The hearing has been adjourned for several reasons, leaving victims with little hope that the matter will be concluded.

After a series of complaints, Naivasha Chief Magistrate Kennedy Bidali said the hearing would begin on Monday.

However, this was not the case as the prosecutor skipped court. This resulted in protests by the suspects' lawyer, who asked the court to dismiss the case.

NO SERIOUSNESS

Through lawyers Boniface Masinde and F Mburu, the suspects cited lack of seriousness by the prosecution.

Mr Masinde said the case has become a "serious interference" in his clients' lives, as they travel to court only for the matter to be adjourned.

“Either the DPP is not serious in its work or it is not willing to prosecute this case. For the interest of justice for all parties, I urge the court to dismiss this case," he said.

The court then set a ruling for Thursday but the magistrate pushed it January 2020, saying it was not ready. Mr Bidali said the court was overwhelmed so it could not prepare the ruling within the short period.

APPEAL

The victims, who have been travelling from Solai in Bahati to Naivasha for the case, said they were tired.

“It has been almost two years since the suspects were charged. It breaks our hearts to see no progress in the case. We call upon the President to intervene so that the case is expedited,” said Mr Maina.

Earlier, senators blamed DPP Noordin Haji and Interior CS Fred Matiang’i for the slow pace of prosecuting Mr Mansukh and the others.

The senators also questioned the whereabouts of Sh1 billion that the government released for the affected families through the Red Cross, as it did not reach the victims.

Senate’s Justice and Legal Affairs committee further accused the DPP, Dr Matiang’i and other State agencies of ignoring a report by an ad hoc committee that was chaired by Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr.

The lawmakers also accused government agencies of handling the matter in a casual manner.