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Court faults AG's role in un-ending Sinai Fire victims petition

30 January 2014, 18:23 Millicent Kawii

Nairobi - The High court has faulted the Attorney General's office for the slow pace of a case in which victims of the Sinai Fire disaster are seeking settlement over the tragedy.

Judge David Majanja who also declined to adjourn the case also demanded to know why lawyers acting in defence of three institutions cited as culpable for the fire acted in a manner likely to cause delay of seeking justice for the down trodden victims.

“I will not adjourn this case anymore; didn’t you know the case was scheduled for hearing today? Didn’t you realize the missing copies before today?” Justice Majanja asked.

The lawyer representing the Attorney General denied being served with suit papers and the lawyer representing the victims Evans Ondieki is an authority with Nairobi City Council who are listed as a respondent in the suit.

State lawyers requested for the postponement of the case to a further date while the victims lawyer had already appointed another lawyer to represent the victims in his absenture.

Ondieki claimed to have discussed the issue with his clients on his situation and was ready for the case to proceed. Ondieki further presented the judge with copies of the documents alleged not to have been served with stamped dates.

However the two state counsels were adamant that the case could not proceed as they had not been given all documents relating to the suit by Ondieki.

“I will adjourn the matter to February 13 for the state counsel to familiarize with the documents but I am convinced he was served, I apologize to everyone for the efforts to come,” judge Majanja said.

Survivors of the tragedy were part of the large group of the victims who had availed themselves for the kickoff of the hearing of their Sh 25B compensation case which however did not take place because of a mix up with the lawyers for both parties in the suit.

The victims’ who were saddened by the turn of events in court alongside Nairobi Senator Gideon Mbuvi have sued the Kenya Pipeline Corporation (KPC), Nairobi City Council, the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) and the Attorney General.

Mbuvi wept outside court with the unhappy victims saying justice delayed is justice denied. In December, Mbuvi who is a key witness in the case had complained of delays in the case.

Earlier, Nema, KPC and the Nairobi City Council had wanted to be excluded from the proceedings of the case with claims that they did not bear direct responsibility for the Sinai fire tragedy.

The City Council claimed not to have any property interest on the land occupied by the victims since the land belonged to KPC while Nema claimed there was no connection between its mandate stipulated under the Environmental Management and Coordination Act and the victims’ claims.

After the incident that left more than 100 people dead and 800 others seriously injured, Sonko who was then Makadara MP, wanted an order compelling the government and other key institutions to compensate the victims.

The victims allege that some of their relatives they lost to the tragedy have not been buried because their remains were not found.

More than 30 residents drawn from Hazina, Mukuru Kayaba, Tetra Pack and Sinai have sworn affidavits stating how they have resided in the area for more than 40 years and should not fall victims of “negligence by companies, which do not want to follow industrial and Nema laws”.

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