The innocent teacher, who spoke to Connect FM after regaining his freedom, explained that his troubles started in 2015 after he secured a job as a teacher in one of the junior high schools in the Greater Accra region.
“I was anxious to secure a job as I had been unemployed for some time. Just a month after joining the school, some officers came to arrest me for no reason while I was in charge of an examination. I went to the police station and was charged for defiling a student whom I did not know.
“I saw the girl’s face and I had never met her before because she was not in my class. I still did not understand what was happening and the case eventually proceeded to court. 3news.com.gh quoted him as saying.
After a long trial with the case adjourned several times, Bernieh, who pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, was convicted by the first court.
“Whenever a case is called, the girl in question does not show up and I am told she is undergoing an operation. I still don’t know what I have done to the girl undergoing the operation.
“After nearly seven months of trial, I was sentenced to 20 years in July 2016. I told the judge I was innocent but he didn’t listen. She said only to file an appeal. I was sent to Nsawam. Bernieh recalled.
However, thanks to Martin Kepebu, a private legal practitioner who heard about his plight and helped him file an appeal against the court’s decision.
An appeals hearing took several months to conclude, at the end of which a judge overturned Bernieh’s conviction and sentence.
Presiding over the appeal hearing, Her Ladyship Justice Mary ME Nsenkiere (Mrs) ruled that the prosecution had failed to prove Bernieh’s guilt as a matter of law.
“Therefore, the prosecution has failed to lead evidence to show that it was the accused person who defiled the victim. Having found that the prosecution has failed to prove that the accused had sexual intercourse with the victim, the prosecution has failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.
“This ground of appeal succeeds. Failing to establish the essential elements of the offence, the offense charged against the appellant is not established beyond reasonable doubt and he cannot be found guilty.
“In the result the appeal succeeds and is upheld. I hereby set aside the conviction and sentence finally imposed on the appellant. The appellant is accordingly acquitted and discharged,” Justice Nsenkyere gave the ruling as quoted by 3news.com.gh.
It remains to be seen whether any compensation will be given for the damage to the reputation of an innocent teacher, the inconvenience of spending six years in jail etc.
Bernieh is one of the many less privileged Ghanaians rotting in various prisons across the country for crimes they did not commit. Some of them did not have the financial resources to hire a lawyer for their case.