You are currently viewing News: Fed. Court orders prosecutors to summon Debretsion, Getachew and 35 others by newspaper, broadcast notice

News: Fed. Court orders prosecutors to summon Debretsion, Getachew and 35 others by newspaper, broadcast notice

By Mahlet Fasil @mahletfasil

Addis Abeba – Judges at the Federal High Court, Lideta Division, First Anti-Terrorism and Constitutional Affairs Criminal bench have today ordered the federal prosecutors to summon 37 defendants in the file name of Tigray state leader Debretsion Gebremichael (PhD) by newspaper and national TV notices.

The court’s ruling followed after the federal police said they were unable to summon the defendants to appear in court due to security concerns. This was despite repeated issuance of court subpoena, the police said.

The plaintiff’s attorney did not object to the court’s ruling that the defendants be summoned by newspaper and broadcast notices to appear in court.

Out of the 62 defendants in the trial file, on 07 January, federal prosecutors discontinued the charges against former senior TPLF officials including Sebhat Nega, Mulu G/Egziabher, Kidusan Nega, Ambassador Abadi Zemu, and Abay Woldu.

In the hearing today, the judges adjourned the next hearing until May 16, in order to await the outcome of the public summon notices. If the defendants failed to appear, the trial will proceed in their absence.

A total of 17 defendants are in police custody facing charges of a range of criminal allegations including terrorism. They include Keriya Ibrahim, former Speaker of the House of Federation, Addis Alem Balema, former Tigray region vice president who was also appointed as Director General of Policy Research Institute by PM Abiy Ahmed in 2020, and Dr. Abraham Tekeste, former state minister of finance and economic development.

In the hearing today, the judges adjourned the next hearing until May 16, in order to await the outcome of the public summon notices. If the defendants failed to appear, the trial will proceed in their absence.

It is to be recalled that in March last year, the Federal Police told a federal court that Keriya was already released from detention. But in May of the same year, she was taken back to police custody after refusing to testify against her co-defendants. She told the court that she had never agreed to testify against the defendants. “I told the prosecutor from the beginning. I never agreed to be the prosecutor’s witness” she said.

Background

Initially, there were only twenty former and current TPLF leaders including Sibhat Nega and Keriya Ibrahim who were detained and were appearing in federal court in Addis Abeba; they made their first appearance on January 15, 2021.

The police accused them of organizing an illegal group to “overthrow the constitutional order, attacking the Northern Command, inciting youths to fight, looting fuel depots, and killing several members of the Defense Forces.” The Federal Police Criminal Investigation Team also allege that they had been involved in “unconstitutional activities related to creating connections with different foreign countries, fundraising for war, shooting rocket-propelled grenades at airports in Gonder and Bahir Dar, and other crimes,” charges all the accused deny.

The federal court has since issued arrest warrants for the remaining TPLF military and political leadership and separated the files into the two groups: military and political leadership of the regional state. The arrest warrant include against the first defendant Debretsion who is currently based in Mekelle as president of the regional state, and Getachew Reda, advisor to the president and TPLF executive committee member. Prosecutors filed terrorism charges against all the 62 defendants on 23 July 2021. Only six of them have since been released. AS

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