Probe into Saitoti death bungled
19 April 2013, 21:30
Nairobi - Kenya's government agencies bungled forensic investigations into the death of two ministers in a plane crash last year, an inquest has concluded.
The commission of inquiry, led by Deputy Chief Justice Kalpana Rawal, also accused pathologists who conducted a post-mortem on the body of Internal Security Minister George Saitoti of professional negligence.
Saitoti and his deputy Joshua Ojode, two bodyguards and Kenya Police Airwing pilots Nancy Gituanja and Luke Oyugi were killed in a helicopter crash on June 10 just outside Nairobi.
The report, which has just been made public, shows that lack of coordination between the Government Chemist, Government Pathologist, the Kenya Police Scene of Crime and the Aircraft Accident Investigators ruined the probe.
These revelations follow an investigative report by local media, which suggested powerful individuals might have been behind the accident.
Kenyan MPs have repeatedly claimed the ministers were killed because of their efforts to stop the trade in illegal drugs.
Rachel Shebesh told Parliament last year that the truth behind the deaths badly dent the government's image.
The report says: "Due to lack of coordination among the relevant government departments dealing with the post mortem examinations and tests, it's possible that crucial evidence was lost which could have helped the commission arrive at conclusive observation on the cause of death. The commission inferred professional negligence in the way the
post-mortem and toxicological processes were handled."
The team says evidence of carbon monoxide found in the blood of one of the pilots was not properly investigated and that toxicological tests did not yield substantial results.
There have been concerns the pilots may have inhaled a poisonous gas prior to the crash.
The team concluded they could not ascertain if the victims died due to carbon monoxide, traumatic injuries, fire injuries or a combination of all of the factors.
The Rawal-led team said it was frustrated by that it could not conduct its own verification tests on the samples due to poor refrigeration.
"The government departments did not appreciate the importance of autopsy investigation in general and especially for air accident investigation."
"The final report is a product of thorough evaluation of evidence," Rawal said when she released the report.
- CAJ News