The driver of the truck that was involved in the accident at the Londiani junction along the Nakuru-Kericho highway has been charged with reckless driving.
Gilbert Ntuyemungu, a 52-year-old Rwandan national, denied over 90 charges for causing the deaths of 53 people through careless driving. He pleaded not guilty to 53 counts of causing death through dangerous driving, causing serious injuries to 25 people, and causing damage to 10 vehicles.
The accused maintained that the accident was not caused by reckless driving but rather a result of the truck’s brake failure. He mentioned that he had no motive or intent to harm the victims, whom he considered strangers to him.
During plea-taking on Wednesday, the long-distance driver requested the court to release him on favourable bail terms saying he wanted to reunite with his family in Rwanda. He also argued that he needed treatment for the serious injuries he sustained during the accident that left him confined in a wheelchair.
On Thursday, however, a Molo court turned down his bail application. Molo Chief Magistrate Elena Nderitu agreed with the prosecution the accused was a flight risk and lacked adequate surety to warrant the court to grant him bail.
“Since the incident occurred on 30th June this year, no kin or employer paid him a visit at the hospital facility where he was admitted after sustaining serious injuries,” Nderitu stated.
The magistrate also pointed out that the severity of the charges was a crucial factor to consider, as he is facing allegations of mass killings and secondary charges of dangerous driving, which carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. This, she argued, makes it more likely that the accused may attempt to evade trial.
“In the face of this magnitude of charges where among them, Ntuyemugu is facing not just one but 53 charges of causing death by dangerous driving, I am persuaded that the likelihood of him absconding trial is true,’’ Nderitu ruled.
The Chief Magistrate mentioned that the driver had no particular residence or address where he could be found in Kenya and thus should remain in custody until the case is heard and determined.
Given the absence of a repatriation treaty between Kenya and Rwanda, the court considered it risky to grant him bail.
The hearing of the case has been scheduled for August 30, 2023.
While in remand at Nakuru GK Prison, Ntuyemungu will be provided with witness statements, exhibits, the charge sheet, and other documentary evidence to assist in preparing his defense.