County officials challenge manslaughter charges

Lawyer Lawrence Kariuki has a word with Luka Kipyegen (l) and Johnson Njuguna (C) both staff from Nakuru County over the ongoing Solai case dam at the Naivasha law courts. [Standard]
Two county government officers are challenging a decision to charge them over the Solai Dam deaths.

Rongai Sub-county Administrator Luka Kipyegen and Director of Water Johnson Njuguna, who moved to the High Court after the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) indicted them, are seeking a judicial review of their case.

The officers are among nine suspects charged at the Naivasha Law Courts with 48 counts of manslaughter, failing to prepare an environmental impact assessment report of the dam and neglect of duty. They have denied all the charges.

Others charged in the case include Patel Farm owner Perry Manusukh Kanasagara, his manager and five other government officers.

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With the pre-trial slated for today, the county workers, in a petition, said the charges preferred against them would taint their reputations.

They have accused the DPP of preferring criminal charges against them without any basis.

“The decision by the DPP is in violation of the provisions of the Fair Administrative Actions Act because it is not lawful, reasonable and procedurally fair,” reads the petition in part.

Through their lawyer Lawrence Kariuki, the defendants said the DPP was abusing his powers in preferring the manslaughter charges against them.

They have further argued that the duty of regulating the use of water and inspecting water permits is exercised by the Water Resource Authority and not the county director of water or sub-county administrator.

Mr Kariuki called on High Court judge Richard Mwongo to listen and determine the petition before the main case starts on September 10.

He said the case had drawn wide public interest, adding that the court should give clear directions before the trial begins.

The case will be heard on August 14.

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