NAIROBI, KENYA – Today, an innocent Kenyan father named Joseph was declared free after languishing in prison for 16 months. His family's nightmare began when Joseph was arrested and charged with a crime he never committed.
When a riot broke out near the small shop he ran in a popular marketplace, Joseph walked outside to investigate the commotion. He was struck by a stray bullet, fired by police in an attempt to control the crowd. The same police who accidently shot him later ordered him arrested, fabricating the charge that Joseph had injured the police and stolen their weapons. He was thrown in prison and charged with robbery with violence – a capital offense.
IJM Kenya learned of the charges against this innocent man and began representing him before the Court. The trial dragged on for months, despite the obvious lack of evidence against Joseph. His imprisonment left his wife and six children without the support of their primary breadwinner.
The frequent delays in the trial left Joseph's wife distraught. She has been waiting for her husband's freedom for more than a year, every delay compounding her anxiety for Joseph and their future together.
When IJM staff showed up at the courtroom on May 3, 2012, for Joseph's final hearing, the power was out.
Determined that this should not cause yet another delay, IJM Attorney Christine Nknoge ran across the street to purchase candles.
The judge read the verdict by candlelight: Joseph was declared innocent.
"Our team in Kenya is in full celebration mode right now," says IJM Kenya's Field Office Director, Shawn Kohl. "Joseph's wife and his children will get to see their dad after over a year. We will keep walking with this family to restore all that has been lost, but today, we rejoice that Joseph is free at last."