Prosecutor presented video and audio evidences against Gurmessa Ayano et al (Feb 17, 2017 Hearing)

It was to hear the CD evidences against defendants under Gurmessa Ayano et at. that adjournment was given for February 17th. On the hearing, the prosecutor told the court that it they brought total of 4 CDs among which 2 of them are against 4th defendant Bekele Gerba while the rest two were against Abdeta Neggassa and Beyene Rudo each.
The two CDs against Bekele consisted of three videos; interviews with Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT) and Voice of America (VOA), as well as a speech delivered at the Oromo Studies Association (OSA). The prosecutor explained the issue claiming that both the interviews and the speech have anti-peace contents.
Regarding the 5th and 11th defendants, the prosecutor claimed that the evidences were found in the personal laptops of detainees. Judges asked the prosecutor to explain what OSA is. But the answer from the prosecutor was “I do not know what it is.”
The first video, 44 minutes phone interview, Ato Bekele gave to ‘the Human rights’ program of ESAT in December 2015 was viewed. In the interview, Bekele was heard talking about the Oromia protest in different universities and government’s ban of Oromo Federalist Congress’s peaceful demonstration request in Adama- the political capital of Oromia. Bekele added in the video that the military should stop firing against its own fellow citizens condemning that the action is not appropriate.
The next evidence presented was the 36 minutes speech by Ato Bekele at the OSA in 2015. In the video, Bekele stated that the government on power is Oppressing Oromo’s and that they need to stand for their freedom. Bekele Gerba underlined in the video that nonviolent protests are the only way outs. He further shared his hope with the audience that his party would work harder to be competitive in the next general election at all levels. At the end of the program in the video, Bekele was seen receiving a gift, painting of himself from artist Yadeja Bojjia.
The videos took the morning session and hearings postponed for afternoon. Though judges wanted the hearing to continue in the afternoon, the prosecutor demanded the court to adjourn for another day claiming that he would not be able to appear at the bench in the afternoon. Accordingly, they adjourned to Feb 20, 2017.
The lawyer for Ato Bekele, Abduljebar requested the court that his client should be allowed to be visited by his relative from abroad who was denied to see him by the prison administrators. Judges asked the relative why he was not allowed and he replied that he was not given any reason from the prison administrators. A guard from the prison explained to judges that any Ethiopian national is allowed to visit prisoners. Judges recommended the relative who has got a Canadian passport to re – apply to the administrators and would meet Bekele in the next appointment at the court if denied by the administrators there.

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