The Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Noordin Haji has now moved to the High Court seeking a revision of a ruling that acquitted nine suspects charged with causing 48 deaths in Solai two years ago.
Two days after a Naivasha court set free the nine suspects, Haji termed the decision as unfair and an abuse of the rights of the victims of the Solai Dam tragedy.
This came as Naivasha Chief Magistrate Kennedy Bidali who acquitted the nine dismissed a petition by the Kenya Human Rights Commission seeking to be enjoined in the case.
Bidali noted that the ruling which freed the suspects had covered the issues of the petition, saying that the victims had sworn an affidavit against being represented in the court.
The magistrate, however, declined to issue orders by the defense seeking to have sureties of the suspects discharged and their bond terms vacated, saying that this would be handled by the upper court.
In the case, Perry Manusukh Kanasagara (the farm owner) and the others were charged with 48 counts of manslaughter on May 9, 2018, in Solai, Nakuru and for failing to prepare an environmental impact assessment report.
The other acquitted suspects are Vinoj Jaya Kumar, Johnson Njuguna, Luka Kipyegen, Winnie Muthoni, Jacinta Were, Tomkin Odo Odhiambo, Williec Omondi and Lynette Cheruiyot.
State Counsel Alexander Muteti said that they had already gone to the High Court to seek the revision of the case which has been going on for the last 18 months.
He said that they would be seeking orders to stop the ruling by the magistrate and for the case to proceed to its logical conclusion.
“The decision by the court to acquit the nine accused under Section 210 of the Criminal Procedure Code is improper since the prosecution had not tendered any evidence,” he said.
Outside the court, the victims of the tragedy flanked by officials from the DPP’s and KHRC office termed the ruling unfair.
According to Isaac Chege, apart from filing an application seeking a revision of the case, they would lodge a complaint with the Judicial Service Commission over the conduct of the magistrate.
“The victims are aggrieved by this ruling and find that there has been a blatant miscarriage of justice because they were not given a chance to present their case,” he said.
This was echoed by another victim, Stephen Kuria, who said that they were aggrieved by the court decision as their suffering was not considered before the case was thrown out.
“The grounds given by the court are illegal, illogical, grossly misconstrued and calculated to deny the victims their rights,” he said.
Lawyer Hagai Chimei for KHRC and the victims questioned the ruling, adding that they would also be heading to the High Court to appeal against the acquittal.
“This case is of high public interest and everyone is concerned by the decision to acquit the suspects before the victims' side of the story could be heard,” he said.