Court Adjourns Witness Hearing against two Journalists & 18 Co-defendants

The Federal High Court 14th Criminal Bench adjourned a prosecutor’s witness hearing that brought against two journalists and their 18 co-defendants for the sixth time.

The two journalists, Khalid Mohammed & Darsema Sori, & their co-defendants appeared today, April 27, in High Court after a three months absence. However, the Kaliti remand prison failed to bring the 17th defendant, Ayatel Kubera Neserdin, to the court.

Following to their request to remove a presiding judge from their case in the beginning of February, the court was holding their case for months until it replaced a judge. When the court resumes their hearing today with a new presiding judge, it went back to the process that started in January 2016.

It was in January the public prosecutor begun to bring its witnesses to the court. After some of the witnesses testified, the court repeatedly adjourned the trial due to the absence of the remaining.  The prosecutor today told the court that out of his 30 witnesses; around 10 of them are not yet testified.

The presiding judge, Nestanet Tegegn  then announced that she cannot proceed with the witness hearing due to the absence of the witnesses and the defendant’s lawyer, Seid Abdella. She said that the lawyer filed an application a week before the trial to change the hearing time from morning to afternoon.

“Due to these reasons, adjournment is a must,” the judge said.

Three of the defendants raised complaints on the repetitive postponement of the trial.  Journalist Khalid Mohammed recalled all the witnesses appeared when the hearing started and even took oath. He told the court that talking about delivery of court order to the witnesses at this time is “back to square one”.

Journalist Darsema Sori remind to the court that they were staying in Makelawi detention center for five months and kept in Kilinto remand Prison for nine months. He said that their case adjourned for at least 11 times and asked the court to give them a short appointment.

The judge adjourned the witness hearing for May 26, 2016 in spite of the prosecutor’s complaint. The prosecutor complained that some of his witnesses are living outside of Addis Ababa and need enough time.  

Khalid and Daresema

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