Solai dam tragedy suspects released on strict bond terms

From left, Kensalt limited and Patel coffee and Estate Managing Director Perry Mansukh, Patel Farm General Manager Vinoj Jayakumar and Nakuru County Director of Water Johnson Kamau Njuguna at Naivasha court on July 5,2018. [Kipsang Joseph/Standard]
Nine suspects in the Solai dam tragedy which claimed 48 lives have been released on a Sh5m bond and a surety of a similar by a Naivasha court.

Prosecution had objected to the suspects' release arguing that they would interfere with State witnesses.

Naivasha Principal Magistrate Joseph Karanja set an alternative Sh2.5m cash bail for the suspects.

Travel documents

The magistrate further directed the suspects to hand over their travel documents to the court and report to the office of Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) in Nakuru every fortnight.

“The suspects should not leave the court jurisdiction without permission and they should not at any time get into contact with State witnesses,” he said.

The release came after eight of the suspects, who included the owner of Patel farm, Perry Manusukh Kanasagara, spent three nights in remand.

This came as prosecution replaced the name of a senior government officer on the charge sheet with that of an officer from Nakuru County government.

State Counsel Catherine Mwaniki amended the charge sheet and replaced the name of Julius Kavita with that of Luka Kipyegen.

Kavita is the Rongai Deputy County Commissioner while Kipyegen is the current Rongai sub-county administrator.

Lawyer Lawrence Kariuki, who is appearing for Kipyegen wondered why the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) had ordered for the arrest of Kavita only to have the name substituted.

“The DPP was under pressure to arrest the suspects without tangible evidence only to realise that they had arrested one of their own and hence the move to substitute the charges,” protested Kariuki.

Kipyegen, Williec Omondi and Lynette Cheruiyot were freshly charged with 48 counts of manslaughter and failing to prepare an environmental impact assessment report of the dam.

The three faced another charge of neglect of duty.

They denied all the charges.

Last week, six suspects including Manusukh, Vinoj Jaya Kumar, Johnson Njuguna, Winnie Muthoni, Jacinta Were and Tomkin Odo Odhiambo had been charged with the same counts.

They denied the charges.

In his ruling, the magistrate said that the prosecution had failed to prove that the suspects were a flight risk and that Manusukh and Vinoj should not be discriminated against.

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