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OLF says gov’t investigation into murder of senior official marred by ‘plethora of intentional distractions of evidence, misinformation and disinformation campaigns’

The Late Batte Urgessa (Photo: screenshot)

Addis Abeba – The Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) has expressed doubts about the credibility of the ongoing investigation into the murder of prominent Oromo politician Batte Urgessa, who was shot dead in Meki town, East Shewa zone of the Oromia region, last week.

In a statement released on 14 April, the OLF asserted that “there are several indications that the so-called investigation by the government lacks credibility from the get-go, as there are a lot of pieces of evidence of impartiality, obliteration of pieces of evidence, misinformation and disinformation.”

The OLF claims to have “credible information” suggesting that Batte was taken from his hotel room by government security forces, who “severely beat him” while removing him from the hotel.

The political party also stated that witnesses to the incident, including the hotel watchman and locals who guarded Batte’s body overnight, have been “abducted, disappeared, or killed to conceal any possible evidence.”

Last week, the Oromia regional government had condemned the killing of Batte and cautioned that “ongoing propaganda to make the government responsible is not acceptable in any way.” The statement conveyed that Batte was killed by “unidentified assailants” in Meki town, adding that “whoever committed it, the act is totally unacceptable.”

The East Shewa Police Directorate announced the arrest of 13 suspects in connection with the murder, including Batte’s brother Millo and his sister Simbo, who has since been released. Assistant Commissioner Tariku Dirbaaba also stated that “an investigation team” has been set up to examine the case.

But the OLF accuses that “groups or individuals connected to the regional government and the ruling Prosperity Party (PP) are attempting to link the killing to a family feud.” The statement notes, “It is highly inconceivable that a family member would collaborate with security forces and indulge in tying a fellow family member’s hands on his back, mount him on a vehicle, drive him to a distant area and watch the security forces shoot him with 11 bullets.”

The party further highlighted a pattern of unsolved murders targeting peaceful political, cultural, and human rights activists over the past five years. The statement emphasizes the OLF’s belief that the investigation is affected by “intentional distractions of evidence, misinformation, and disinformation campaigns.”

It called upon human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, United Nations and African Union bodies, and the diplomatic community for an impartial and nonpartisan investigation into the matter.

The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) was among the first to demand a prompt, impartial, and comprehensive investigation into the murder, calling upon both the Oromia regional authorities and the federal government to collaborate in holding those responsible accountable for their actions.

Similarly, several local and international stakeholders, including the U.S. State Department, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the United Kingdom government, have joined the call for independent investigations into Batte’s murder.

The European Union (EU) also said it supports the call by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission and international partners for a full investigation into the killing of Batte. The EU stated, “We are ready to support all efforts for dialogue, accountability, justice and reconciliation setting Ethiopia on a path towards a peaceful and prosperous future.”

The OLF advised the Oromo people to “remain cautious, vigilant, and resolute,” urging them to “peacefully and legally stand against these injustices in all possible ways.” AS

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