High Court dismisses application to stop prosecution of suspects in Solai Dam tragedy

The High Court seating in Naivasha has dismissed an application by four suspects seeking to stop their prosecution in the Solai Dam case which is set to begin in a weeks’ time.

The four suspects who include two senior officers from Nakuru County government and two from NEMA had sought a judicial review in a case where they are facing 48 counts of manslaughter.

The four in two different petitions had challenged the decision by the DPP to charge them noting that they were not directly responsible for the tragedy that left 48 people dead.

In the first petition, Johnson Kamau who is the director of water in Nakuru County and Luka Kipyegen Rongai sub-county administrator had accused the DPP of unfairly targeting them.

The county workers in the petition noted that the charges preferred against them court could taint their reputation.

They 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.

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

But in his ruling, High Court Judge Richard Mwongo noted that the two in regard to their positions in the county knew of the existence of the dam before it burst its banks.

In dismissing the petition, the judge noted that the due to public interest and the grave consequences that that the collapse of the dam brought, the prosecution of the suspects should not be stopped.

“The matter should proceed and be determined expeditiously so that the matter can be laid to rest,” he said in his ruling.

The second petition was filed by Williec Omondi and Lynette Cheruiyot both employees of National Environment Management Authority (NEMA).

The duo through their lawyers had argued that there was infringement and violations of their rights and that the law protected them from any personal liability when carrying out their duties.

But in his ruling, the judge noted that following the tragedy that resulted in deaths, the role of NEMA and the accused persons came into sharp focus.

He noted that the two in their petition has admitted that they were deployed to carry out the mandate of NEMA where the dam was located but their failed to do this.

The other suspects in the case are Perry Manusukh Kanasagara, Vinoj Jaya Kumar, Winnie Muthoni, Jacinta Were and Tomkin Odo Odhiambo.

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