Irish priest speaks of jail agony

Irish preacher Rory Bracken.
An Irish preacher had to spend 23 days in a Kisumu prison after failing to raise Sh200,000 bond when he was charged with being in Kenya illegally.

Rory Bracken says he had a tough time as a visitor in Kenya, as all his personal documents were confiscated.

“While in prison, my wife whom I left in Uganda as I crossed into Kenya lost our twins in a miscarriage perhaps due to stress. We had just married in January this year,” he said.

Bracken, 59, was finally acquitted on Thursday after Kisumu Resident Magistrate Linah Akoth found him innocent.

He said he is returning home a bitter man after a “betrayal by fellow pastors” in Kenya who abandoned him soon after he was arrested. He said a Kenyan evangelist from Siaya County, whom he met on Facebook and who welcomed him to Kisumu, later abandoned him and declined to testify in his favour as he stood trial.

Not guilty

“He gave an unsigned statement to police and later failed to turn up in court to testify,” said Bracken.

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Bracken, a preacher with Testify World Ministries in Tullamore, Ireland, was arrested on February 5 after he went to the Immigration offices in Kisumu to seek the renewal of his visa. He was quickly charged with breaching visa rules and thrown behind bars.

When he was presented in court, he pleaded not guilty but was sent to Kodiaga Prison.

He fell sick in prison and the court later, on humanitarian grounds, reduced the bond to Sh50,000, which was paid by friends, securing his release.

On Thursday, Bracken knelt down and prayed in court after he was set free, with the magistrate saying the prosecution and immigration officials failed to prove to the court that the preacher had breached visa rules.

Soon after the ruling, he took to his Facebook page with rage, protesting how he was wrongfully arrested and sent to prison over defective charges. He termed his predicament as an affront to the freedom of worship.

His Ugandan wife, who was also in court, prayed with him as she fought back tears.

Bracken said he entered Kenya on the January 14 through the Malaba border where he was given a one-month visitor’s visa. In Kenya, he visited friends and preached in Kisii and Mai Mahiu and later travelled to Siaya on February 5.

Missionary visa

Bracken said in Siaya, he was supposed to meet a pastor of a local deliverance church who was to take him to collect a letter that would allow him get a three-year missionary visa.

However, the church leaders advised him to go to the Immigration offices to have his then visitor visa extended as he was working on the letter.

“The following morning, I went with the pastor to the Kisumu Immigration offices, we were referred to a Mr Bashir, whom I was told was to extend my visa for one month,” said Bracken.

Bashir then placed him under arrest for not having a work permit.

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Rory BrackenIrish preacherJail