A case against a student charged with the murder of 9 learners in a dorm fire at the Moi Girls School has been fast-tracked in the interest of justice.
Judge Stella Mutuku has scheduled uninterrupted dates starting November 3 2018 to December as the trial has been marred with disruptions and variations of the hearing dates since September 13 2017 when the student was charged with murder.
Please click the link below for a backgrounder:
Prosecutor Catherine Mwaniki told justice Stella Mutuku at the high court in Nairobi that it was necessary to get early hearing dates and conclude the matter “as soon as possible.”
The prosecution, she said intends to start with other witnesses-the school principal, pathologists, who were on the ground on the fateful September 2 20017, and students later. About 30-40 witnesses are to be called for the hearing.
“In the interest of justice we pray for earlier dates, noting that the subject is a minor and that the trial be concluded as soon as possible,” Mwaniki said.
Resetting the mind
Defence lawyer Stanley Kang’ahi concurred that early dates for the hearing were necessary although he disclosed that he has had a challenge resetting the mind of the subject,EGW, as she is identified in these proceedings, when the matter was first moved moved from the initial hearing dates in December 2017 and April 2018.
“We were hopeful that the state’s principal witnesses are students who mostly were candidates in the year ending KCSE exams and that they were to be heard after they have sat their exams,’ the lawyer said.
Kang’ahi said the Form 1 student charged with the nine murders has had to be re-scheduled for cat-up classes for August after missing out in preparation for the trial that failed to take off in April.
However, Mwaniki in a rejoinder said the girl’s case was not exceptional as other minors have been coming to court as well.
Lawyers for the bereaved families said the matter has been disruptive due to the back and forth rescheduling of hearing dates and said they would be pleased with “uninterpreted hearing dates for the sake of justice.”
The trial court is on leave for two months and the next available date is in November.
In the meantime, Kang’ahi has been adviced to counsel the subject in light of the new changes in the hearing schedule.
The subject faces a total of nine counts relating to the murder of her schoolmates.
Her parents deposited a bond of Ksh200,000 to secure her freedom.
The schoolgirls who died in the tragedy are Esther Neema, Nancy Wamuthuri Thuku, Hanna Jeyso Timado, Hawa Haziz, Mary Njengo Mokaya, Alakiir Malong, Natalie Asiko, Whitney Kerubo and Marcia Okello.
In court the minor has denied that she caused the death of her nine colleagues on the night of September 2 2017 but on Social media she tells a different story.
A viral post that was captured on a Whatsapp group conversation at the height of investigations is believed to be where the arson was planned and the subject is reported to have later boasted on the same forum that she is untouchable as she comes from a well-off family.
Section 186(g) of the Children Act says the privacy of young offenders should be protected.
The proceedings will, therefore, be conducted in camera until the case is concluded.
This same section says the case should be determined without delay.