The High court has found an ex-Moi university student that started a dormitory fire that killed 10 students in 2017 guilty of manslaughter.
The accused, who was 14 years at the time was housed in Kabarnet dormitory, where the inferno occurred. She is now 18 years old.
She is accused of having started the fire as a protest to have her parents transfer her from the school.
According to Justice Stella Mutuku, the accused did not start the fire with the intention of killing her schoolmates and her naivety may have overlooked the consequences of her actions.
“Her aim may have been just to cause a fire and burn the building without hurting anyone, but it was ill-intentioned given that the building had two floors and there were going to be casualties as a result of the fire,” she said.
The judge acquainted her of all 10 counts of murder charges she was facing, on the grounds that the prosecution failed to prove the element of malice aforethought.
“She is hereby acquitted of the 10 counts of murder she is facing. Instead, I find the offense proved beyond a reasonable doubt to be manslaughter in all the 10 counts.”
Unlike Murder which carries a death sentence as prescribed under section 205 of the Penal Code, the offense of manslaughter is punishable by the maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
Judges have often discounted life imprisonment for first-time offenders.
Moi Girls Dormitory Fire
The fire at Moi Girls School broke out at one of the dormitories on that fateful Saturday at about 02:00 am.
Then Education Minister Fred Matiang’i said the incident at Moi Girls School was not an accident, but an act of arson.
Cases of school fires have been common in the country and 2021 has seen a spate of similar incidents across the country and maybe this ruling will serve as a warning to students who are notorious in setting dormitories on fire as a way of protest.
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