Gurmesa Ayano (Bekele Gerba) et al refused to plead guilty or not guilty: August 11 Hearing

“I won’t plead because I don’t believe in the Independence of this Judiciary” Bekele Gerba

OFC leaders and members charged with ATP by the federal prosecutor refused to plead guilty or not guilty. On Today’s trail on Aug 11 the federal High court Lideta 4th bench sits to hear the Plea of accused. The court asked the accused whether they plead guilty or not guilty one by one.

The first defendant Gurmessa Ayano said “This charge is not clear for me; I have expressed this in the objection. I mustn’t be charged as a member of OLF while I am a member of legal political party which is struggling in a peaceful way. This is literally accusing the people for whom I am struggling. If the Oromo people are terrorists I am also a terrorist. This is unjust. Therefore, I am not obliged to plead here.”

The second defendant Dejene Tafa said “While the people for whom I am struggling are slaughtered by the military of the government, I don’t want to plead standing here. It will be a historical mistake if I plead to a court which defies the constitution. I don’t want to appear here again”   

The third Defendant Addis Bulala also refused to plead guilty or not guilty on the same manner. “This fiction framed in a format of charge is not clear. In our culture you won’t touch even a dog out of a blue. If it has happened that is disrespecting the pet parent. I am struggling for the Oromo people in legal and peaceful way. The fabricated story is branding me as a member OLF.  I am a member of OFC not OLF. It is shameful for me when the court asked me to plead guilty or not guilty. If it is not mandatory I don’t want to appear to this court again. You can send your verdict.” The presiding judge, Judge Tadelw Tegegn was warning the defendants not to make a long statement other than recording their pledge.

After the warning the 4th defendant the Deputy chair of OFC (Oromo Federalist Congress) Bekele Gerba said

 “On the objection of the charge we have asked to be tried in the place the government claimed the crime has been committed. Our inquiry was constitutional. But you didn’t accept it. Therefore, I won’t plead because I don’t believe in the Independence of this Judiciary. Previously, this court had convicted me for eight years with pseudo evidence.’’

The remaining defendants have been responding on the same manner. The 10th and 12th defendants plead not guilty and the 13th defendant said nothing in answer to the charge. The 7 th defendant said

“I don’t want to reply because the charge is full of hate and disregarding statements”. The remaining defendants refused to plead guilty or not guilty because they don’t believe the court is independent and the charge is not clear.

The Qilinto prison administration failed to bring the 11th and 19th defendants and claimed that it is due to the work load. The lawyer of the defendants alarmed the court may be the physical security of the defendants is endangered and asked the court to take a note on this specific matter.  The court gave an order to the prison administration to bring them on the next day to hear the plea of the accused.

The court entered the plea of all the defendants appeared today as they plead not guilty by taking their refusal as deny of the charge. The court gave an adjournment for the opening of the case and calling of witnesses for prosecution for Nov 11-25, 2016. The court explained that it gave consecutive days to hear several witnesses of the prosecutor.

They defendants remained seated while the judges enter and leave the courtroom to show their protest against the trial.

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