Charged with terrorism by the federal prosecutor at the federal high court Lideta 19th criminal bench Olana Kebede and et.al (21 defendants) plead “not guilty” on February 9, 2016.
The court was adjured for February 9 to give a ruling on the preliminary objection and the prosecutor’s replay on the objections. The court only accepted one and over ruled all other saying ‘others will be clarified while going through the trial.’
The defendants objected; that they are charged with more than one Anti- Terrorism Proclamation (ATP) article for the same alleged crime. They also argued that the charge has redundancy of alleged crime activities and should be amended. They have also complained the charge is not supported with enough evidence, does not show dates and time of a crime and the defendants are charged of the ATP for alleged activities which were conducted before the proclamation was enacted. The court announced that the prosecutor already gave a replay for the objection and they have given their verdict based on that.
Accordingly the court gave its ruling that the charge should have been based with only one specific article of ATP articles and should cancel the other article. The prosecutor right away took action and constricted its charge basing only article 4 and cancelled a 3/1/ from the charge.
The 9th defendant objected prosecutor claim in the charge saying, “the defendant was a member of the outlawed Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) since 1991” because that happened before ATP was enacted. The court overruled the objection saying since it was described in the charge that the defendant is active member, it will be clarified while hearing evidence.
Concerning the objection that the prosecutor did not state specific dates and time, the court overruled it saying it will not affect the foundation of the charge and will be dealt in the trial. All in all the court only accepts one objection from the defendants.
After the court read out the ruling, the defendants were asked if they can give the court their Plea and one by one asked if they commit the crime or not.
All the defendants in a similar manner said ‘we committed no crime we are not guilty’ after hearing the defendants response, the prosecutor said “we have 16 witness and we demand to present” The court adjourn the case to hear the prosecutor witness for March 16, 17 and 18, 2016.