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News: Fed. Supreme Court Cassation bench frees OLF senior leader Col. Gemechu Ayana

Col. Gemechu Atana. Picture: Screenshot

By Siyanne Mekonnen @Siyaanne

Addis Abeba -The Federal Supreme Court Cassation bench has today ruled to set free Colonel Gemechu Ayana, one of the senior leader of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), and subsequently ordered his release from police custody.

On 19 May Colonel Gemmechu was arraigned at the federal supreme court cassation bench alongside four other ranking members of the party, more than three months after a federal court closed the case file; however, the court ruled that the defendants should remain under police custody because judges “didn’t know who arrested them.”

Three of the five defendants in the case file: Kisu Qituma, Usman Hassen, and Lemmesa Takelewere have since released but their cases were cases were pending; and one defendant, Amanuel Ejigu Merga, was reportedly killed by government security forces, according to Lammi Gemechu, interim public relations head of the OLF.

The five defendants were among the 12 senior and ranking members of the OLF who were acquitted of terrorism charges by federal High Court 3rd Anti-Terrorism and Constitutional Bench in May last year. But only Colonel Gemechu remained under custody.

This is the second time he is being released by a court

At a hearing on 19 May this year, the prosecutor was ordered to provide explanation surrounding the killing of Amanuel Ejigu. The court also arraigned Oromia police commission on 23 May to explain the circumstances surrounding the continued detention of Colonel Gemechu.

Previously, the federal police explained to the court that they have no cases against Colonel Gemechu but were keeping him in detention on behalf of Oromia police. At the hearing today, the court ordered the release of Colonel Gemechu.

This is the second time he is being released by a court. Last year in May he was taken back by members of Oromia police in front of the Kilinto federal prison in the outskirts of the capital Addis Abeba as he was leaving after being freed by court; he was then held for six months at Galan Police Station and Awash Melka military camp, among other places without appearing in a court of law. He also told the federal court that had been detained at a poultry farm since 19 November last year.

In a new report released on 19 May, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said that its monitoring on the detention of senior leaders of the opposition OLF in various police stations in Oromia regional state confirmed that were “detained without due process.” AS

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