Falsely accused Human Rights Defender acquitted

It was joy and jubilation at Nakuru Law Courts after a case against a Human Rights Defender that has been going on since 2013 finally came to a conclusion.

Bernard Macharia with lawyer and friends celebrate the acquittal
Bernard Macharia with lawyer and friends celebrate the acquittal

Bernard Macharia a Human Rights defender based in Naivasha but operating in the entire Nakuru County was first arrested 23rd August 2013. His first appearance in court was 3 days later where he was charged with being in possession of an imitation fire arm.

Deep down, Bernard knew he was innocent. Those who knew him closely knew he was innocent but there was not much he could do. Justice had to follow its course.

For over four years, Bernard Macharia has lived with the case hanging over him like the sword of Damocles. The tag of a criminal has followed him for all these years but thanks to a supportyive family, friends and colleagues, he has been able to live with the stigma.

Bernard’s problems started when way back in 2013, he stood firm against what he felt was abuse of rights against a fellow Kenyan. Isaac Nderitu had been assaulted by his area Chief in Kabatini at his work place and Bernard had been one of the witnesses. Apparently, Isaac used to run a bicycle repair business and a video show and the area chief used to collect Kshs. 200 every week. On this occasion, Isaac had refused to part with the 200 bob.

“Being a Human Rights Defender, I felt that Isaac’s rights were being abused and I took it upon myself to have action taken against the Chief,” explains Bernard.

But before long, Bernard says he was summoned by the then OCS at Bahati Police Station and warned to drop the case against the chief. He was also warned that unless the case was dropped, trampled up charges would be brought against him.

That was how Bernard was later to find himself falsely accused of being in possession of an imitation firearm and two rounds of ammunition.

While determining the case in favour of Bernard Macharia, Senior Resident Magistrate Judycastro Nzambi Nduku quoted inconsistencies in the prosecution. She said that the prosecution had failed to prove their case. The prosecution could not explain why only one of the two adults that were at the scene was arrested, how they had discovered that there was a gun, how they had found the gun in a pit latrine at night and finally could not produce the inventory.

“After listening to my defense, the court realized there was a grudge between me and the then OCS at Bahati who has been charged with abuse of office. Am now free after all charges that were falsely brought against me,” says Bernard.

Macharia has been represented in the case by Human Rights Lawyer Mbugua Muriithi from National Council for Human Rights Defense (NCHRD-Kenya). The NHCRD-Kenya was also responsible for paying his bail amounting to Kshs. 500,000.

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