The High Court in Naivasha has put on hold a decision by the magistrate’s court to acquit nine suspects charged with causing death of 49 people during the Solai Dam tragedy.
Justice Richard Mwongo on Wednesday ordered a stay of the ruling by Chief Magistrate Kennedy Bidali who acquitted the suspects, among them Patel Dam owner Perry Mansukh, and his manager, Mr Vinoj Kumar.
The order followed an appeal by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Kenya Human Rights Commission contesting the ruling.
Led by Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Catherine Mwaniki, the DPP filed the appeal and successfully obtained the stay orders.
Justice Mwongo ordered that the file containing the proceedings in the lower court be placed before him for review.
On Monday, Mr Bidali acquitted the suspects citing lack of commitment by the DPP to prosecute the case.
He accused the prosecution of holding the court to ransom by failing to appear in court on several occasions, thus violating the rights of the accused persons to fair trial.
Also freed were Mr Johnson Njuguna, Mr Luka Kipyegen, Ms Winnie Muthoni, Ms Jacinta Were, Mr Tomkin Odhiambo, Mr Willice Omondi and Ms Lynette Cheruiyot.
However, the ruling attracted public outcry who accused the court of denying tragedy victims justice.
Reacting to the ruling, the DPP Noordin Haji expressed his dissatisfaction and vowed to challenge it at the superior court.
Mr Haji reaffirmed his commitment to pursuing justice for the tragedy victims only to be failed by the court.
“I’m alarmed by the ruling. We’re still in negotiations with some of the parties for plea bargaining and the court knew this. The court did not act in the public interest by acquitting the suspects on such a technicality,” Mr Haji said. The appeal will be heard on February 11.
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