Bekele Gerba and other OFC leaders, Gurmessa Ayano et al (22 persons) who has been charged with Anti-Terrorism Proclamation (ATP), complained to the court that the prison administration is violating their rights on June 22, 2016, the defendants have been complaining to the court the same grievance.
On the hearing in Aug 01, the defendants have presented oral and a written complaint to the federal High court Lideta 4th bench, claiming that they and their families are abused and mistreated by the prison administration. The court claimed that they will need more time to see the complaints closely and gave another adjournment.
Last time the court has given an order to the office the general attorney to investigate and present the existence of dark rooms (Prison cells without electric or sun light) in Qilinto Remand center. The Federal prosecutor explained to the court that their office has received the order on last Friday, because he didn’t have enough time to go to the prison to do the inquiry they failed to present their findings to the court. They added, he added he will present his findings on the next trial. It is known that the defendants on their previous complaint have been stating that they are kept in dark rooms and they need to be transferred to other regular cells. The defendants gave details to the court that they are subjected to institutional ill-treatment and human right abuses.
“After this court has dropped our grievance by taking it as something which needs administrative solutions, the prison administration didn’t give us a solution. The situation is deteriorating even most of the time we are unable to contact our families and legal advisors” said the defendants.
Dejene Tafa who was speaking on behalf of the defendants said
“The office of federal prosecutor has charged us because we are simply Oromo, we are ill-treated by this institution, we don’t believe that this institution [federal prosecutor] will investigate and present the existence of dark rooms in Qilinto. We need a neutral body to do the investigation.”
Mr Dejene added that they are kept in ‘Zone Four’ which discriminated them from other prisoners. “We deserve to get all the services in other Zones of the prison. We are allowed to be visited by our families from 12:00-12:30 PM, this is discriminatory and exclusionary.” He said
“We have been under hunger strike for nine consecutive days against these cruelties. But there is no any Justice body that cares about our anguish. This is atrocious. They threaten to kill us and our families. If the peoples of Ethiopia failed to stand on our side we are worrying about our endangered life” He concluded.
The court explained that the case of discrimination is included in the Objections to the charge and it will be considered, and also said it must be known the defendants are suspects and they are not convicted yet. The trail is adjourned to rule out on Objections to the charge, to hear the answer of the prison administration about the complaint of the defendants and the investigation of the office of the attorney general about the alleged dark rooms to Aug 5, 2016 afternoon.
It is remembered that the administration of Qilinto Remand center on its answer to the complaints has asked the court to ‘discipline’ the defendants because they are defaming the institute in a statement written on July 01, 2016.
The defendants wrote on their resentment they has been exposed to health problems up to pass out due the hunger strike they carried out for ten consecutive days (July 20-30, 2016)
On the other hand, the lawyer of Bekele Gerba asked the court to order the prison to not forbid the daughter of Bekele Gerba from visiting her father and providing meals. According to the lawyer Bontu Bekele has been forbidden to visit her father for unknown reason. The court asked the prison representative Chief Officer Teshome about this specific issue, the Chief said that He didn’t have any information about it; he will inform the respective authorities.
The 22th defendant has been requesting the court to assign Kiswahili language translator. But the court couldn’t find one. The defendant told to court through his lawyer to bring English translator because he is a modest English user.