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Rawal Inquiry to commence on Monday

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 13 – The Commission of Inquiry into the plane crash that killed Internal Security Minister George Saitoti, his deputy and four police officers will start holding its public hearings on Monday.

Chairperson Justice Kalpana Rawal announced on Friday that investigators are still taking statements from key witnesses as well as obtaining crucial documents from relevant government offices in preparation of the public sessions.

“As a preparatory measure, the commission has formulated its rules for the conduct and management of its inquiry under section 9 of the Commissions of Inquiry Act,” she said.

Rawal told a press conference that her team has also carried out a Baroscope inspection on the helicopter wreckage as part of the investigations.

“A baroscope inspection was carried out in the presence of experts representing the families. The report of the test is awaited from an independent expert,” she said of the exercise undertaken at the Wilson airport on Thursday.

Some other samples are due to be flown out of the country for further tests as the commission seeks to establish the cause of the accident.

“We are working on that, and they will be flown out very soon,” she said.
The commission appears to have ironed out differences it had with representatives of affected family members which had accused it of carrying out its work in a slow speed.

“Together with representatives of the bereaved families, the commission has continuously held consultative meetings with regard to how the investigations will be conducted,” she said.

The commission has representation from the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA), the Attorney General’s office and Directorate of Public Prosecutions office.

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Assessors sitting in the team include Major Gen (rtd) Harold Tangai, Maj (rtd) Charles Muyehe Wandiri, Captain Peter Maranga and Aggrey Opot.

Assisting counsel are Charles Mutinda (AG’s office) Faith Irari (AG’s office) and James Mungai Warui of the DPP’s office. Clatus Macowenga, Chief Inspector of Aircraft Accidents will serve in the technical team.

Other than investigating the cause of the June 10 accident in Ngong forest, terms of reference for the commission include investigating the procedures surrounding the procurement and purchase of the helicopter AS350 B3e.

It shall also seek to establish how the helicopter was serviced since the time it was purchased, usage and storage prior to the accident that occurred in Kibiku area of Ngong hills, just outside the capital Nairobi.

The late Professor Saitoti and his assistant Ojode were headed to Ndhiwa for a church service and peace meeting in Borabu while accompanied by two bodyguards when the helicopter went down. They all perished in the crash alongside two pilots.

Justice Rawal is urging anyone with information that can help them unearth the cause of the air accident to volunteer it to enable Kenyans know the cause of the accident.


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