10 October 2012

Kenya: Police Yet to Trace Key Saitoti Crash Witnesses

Five witnesses who rushed to the June 10 helicopter crash scene in Ngong cannot be traced, a senior detective told the commission investigating the accident yesterday.

Ngong CID boss Julius Emase told the Kalpana Rawal-led commission that they have not have traced the witnesses who might hold key information into the crash.

Only one witness, Salim Montet, volunteered to testify at the commission. He claimed he was among six people who rushed to the scene a few minutes after the crash.

The witness told the commission he was among first police officers to arrive at the scene and found five people leaving the forest.

The identity of the other witnesses came into limelight as questions arose as to the whereabouts of a second pistol and a briefcase belonging to Internal Security minister George Saitoti who died in the crash.

Montet told the commission last week that he recovered four magazines and a pistol, which he handed over to a police officer. The police later chased him away from the scene, he said.

On Monday, Montet said he did not see the briefcase that is believed to have had cash. Yesterday, the CID officer said they only interrogated and recorded a statement from Montent.

"We have tried and made efforts to trace the witnesses but we have not found them. We are still looking. I don't know why they don't want to reveal what they know," he said at the commission yesterday.

Montet told the commission he was among six people who rushed to the scene and found the aircraft still burning. Only one pilot, Nancy Gituanja, was still alive when Montent and the other witnesses arrived on the scene.

Montet indicated at the commission that he was at the crash scene with a group of neighbours. The helicopter crash claimed the lives of Saitoti, his assistant Orwa Ojode, police bodyguards Thomas Murimi and Joshua Tonkei.

Pilots Gituanja and Luke Oyugi also perished. The commission also heard that helicopter instructor and examiner Captain Charles Wachira who passed outv the two pilots was not qualified for the job.

The lawyers questioned how the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority appointed Capt Wachira to examine the two pilots.

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