From Left: Marrian Mutete, David Walunya Ongare, Joseph Makau, and Derrick Kimathi at the Milimani Law Courts on February 6, 2024.

The proprietor of Mradi Gas plant in Embakasi where a deadly explosion killed six people and injured over 300 was Tuesday arraigned in court alongside three officials from the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA).

They are the plant’s owner Derrick Kimathi and, NEMA officials Joseph Makau, David Warunya On’gare, and Marian Mutete Kioko.

The suspects however did not take plea as the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) sought to have them detained for 21 days, allowing a team of investigators to conclude their inquiry.

The application to detain the four for 21 days is based on an affidavit from the lead investigator, Chief Inspector Isaac Tenai, who stated that the investigations will cover a vast area now strewn with debris.

Prosecuting counsels Ms. Rugut and Mr. Gachoka informed the court that the four suspects are under investigation for charges including murder, conspiracy to commit a felony, negligence of duty, and abuse of office.

Gachoka emphasized that the tragedy is of significant public interest and a national disaster. He said the suspects went into hiding after the explosion on February 5, 2024.

“I urge this court to allow police to detain the suspects for 21 days since the bodies of the deceased were burned beyond recognition and postmortem has not been done,” Inspector Tenai submitted in court.

Likelihood of More Bodies

Mr Tenai mentioned that the police require time to sift through the debris, assess the extent of the damage, and potentially recover more bodies that may still be trapped at the secured scene.

Additionally, he emphasized the necessity to evaluate and analyze the liquid petroleum gas cylinders at the scene in a government laboratory to determine their purity.

Nevertheless, the defense lawyers, headed by Karathe Wadungi, Odero Okello, and Kaveta Mwanzia, contested the request to detain their clients for 21 days, asserting that it would constitute a violation of their constitutional rights.

They sought to have the suspects released on bond while the investigations are ongoing, assuring the court that their clients would adhere to any conditions set by the court.

“All the four suspects surrendered to the police after learning they were being sought over the incident. The fact that the suspects surrendered on their own volition is a sign of good intention,” the lawyers said.

Presiding magistrate Dolphina Alego allowed the State’s request and directed that Mr Kimathi, Mr Joseph Makau and Ms Marian Mutete be detained at Embakasi Police Station.

“The court is pleased to issue a custodial order that the four suspects be detained for 21 days from today at Embakasi police station in Nairobi to allow Chief Inspector Isack Tenai, an investigator attached at DCI Parklands complete investigations on the matter,” reads the court papers.

David Ong’are, will, however, be held for 10 days, with a maximum of 14 days, taking into consideration his medical condition. His detention will take place at Capitol Hill Police Station.