French and South African experts have joined investigations into the helicopter crash which killed Internal Security minister George Saitoti, his assistant Orwa Ojodeh and four police officers.
At the same time, the team has been expanded from five to 13 members.
Announcing the move on Monday, Prime Minister Raila Odinga said the investigation would be conducted under the Civil Aviation (Investigation of Accidents) Regulations as a public inquiry.
He said the government expected the team to start its public inquiry on Monday. The team will be headed by Court of Appeal judge Kalpana Rawal, who will be assisted by four assessors — Maj-Gen (Rtd) Harold Tangai, Maj (Rtd) Charles Muyehe Wandiri, Capt Peter Maranga and Mr Fredrick Aggrey Opot.
The assisting counsel are Mr Charles Mutinda and Ms Faith Ireri, both of the Attorney General’s office, and Mr James Mungai Warui from the Directorate of Public Prosecutions.
The technical team will be headed by Chief Inspector of Aircraft Accidents Clatus Macowenga, who will be assisted by two South African aviation experts led by Mr Chris Briers.
Mr Briers will be representing the families of the ministers at the inquiry. The government had last week said family members would be included in the inquiry but Mr Odinga and Prof Muigai yesterday said the lawyers would represent them.
“We want the team to be ready to work by Monday next week. This is an open public inquiry and we are encouraging families of the deceased and all those who are adversely affected to come forward and volunteer any information,” said Prof Muigai.
A French aviation expert whose name could not be immediately established will represent the manufacturer of the Erocopeter AS 350 B3 that crashed at Kibiku area of Ngong Forest on June 10.
Another aviation expert will represent the French Government.
The 13-member panel was gazetted on Monday morning by Prof Muigai and will be sworn in Tuesday by Chief Justice Willy Mutunga.
The inquiry team is tasked with investigating the procedures surrounding the procurement and purchase of the helicopter and also look into the servicing, maintenance, usage and storage of the helicopter prior to the accident.
The public inquiry will investigate the circumstances surrounding the flight control of Eurocopter AS350 B3 by Wilson Airport on the morning of June 10 as well as establish what led to the accident.
The team is also expected to look into any other matter relating or consequential to the helicopter crash.
The Prime Minister assured Kenyans that the government would make public the inquiry report and act on the recommendations.
“The government wishes to assure all Kenyans, the families of the deceased and interested parties that all efforts will be put into establishing the circumstances surrounding the the accident,” Mr Odinga said.
He, however, said the public inquiry would have no time limit “as such investigations cannot be confined.”
At the same time, he announced that the government spokesman on the matter will now be Transport minister Amos Kimunya.
The government will also give legal assistance to the families not already represented.
“I cannot divulge at this point which families are represented. But we received a report by two families that they had retained two legal experts,” said Prof Muigai.
The AG explained that the government could not appoint a commission of inquiry as suggested by some quarters saying it wanted to act within the legal confines.
“We take this matter very seriously. That is why a very senior judge is heading it.”
The original team had five members: Justice Rawal, Maj-Gen Tangai, Mr Macowenga, Mr Mutinda and Ms Ireri.