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Solai dam case postponed yet again

By Antony Gitonga | December 6th 2019 at 12:00:00 GMT +0300

Victims of the Solai Dam tragedy will have to wait longer for justice after a court postponed the matter to next year.

Tens of victims who had flocked to the Naivasha Law Courts yesterday were disappointed after presiding Chief Magistrate Kennedy Bidali sought for more time to write his ruling.

Mr Bidali was expected to decide whether the case would be dismissed following an application by the defence counsel over the case that has dragged on for months.

The magistrate, however, said that increased workload had delayed his ruling, which he assured would be ready by January 20 next year.

In the case, nine suspects, including Solai Dam owner Perry Mansukh Kansagara, are charged with 48 counts of manslaughter as well as failing to prepare an environmental impact assessment report.

The dam collapsed on May 9 last year and left hundreds of families displaced when waters swept away their property.

The other eight are Vinoj Jaya Kumar, Johnson Njuguna, Luka Kipyegen, Winnie Muthoni, Jacinta Were, Tomkin Odhiambo, Williec Omondi and Lynette Cheruiyot.

This latest development followed an apology from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) for delaying the case.

Prosecution counsel Wangui Gichohi told the court that the State was ready to proceed with the matter.

Ms Wangui said the State counsel responsible for handling the matter had failed to turn up for the start of the case because there was another matter being heard in Mombasa.

“The office of the DPP apologises for failing to turn up for the hearing of the case earlier in the week and we promise that this will not happen again,” she told the court.

Earlier, advocate Mburu Irungu told the court of the suspects' agony as they waited for the case to kick off.

Mr Mburu urged the court to dismiss the charges, saying that the prosecution was not interested in the case hence the frequent adjournments.

“The suspects are entitled to a speedy trial but the office of the DPP is not interested. We are asking the court to allow the matter to proceed to full trial or dismiss the case,” he said.

The advocate accused the State counsel of contempt of court for failing to appear for a hearing despite the date having been set.

Mburu said the prosecutor should be summoned to explain her absence.

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