The court is hearing the witnesses for prosecution against Bekelle Gerba and other OFC leaders, Gurmessa Ayano et al (22 persons) has been charged with Anti-Terrorism proclamation. On November 23rd 2016 one witness testified against the third defendant Addisu Bulala in the afternoon session.
In the morning, even if the judges took their chair the lawyer of the 2nd defendant wasn’t present and the court adjourned the hearing for the afternoon session. It is remembered the defendants have complained to the court about the human right abuse by kilinto prison administration via their lawyers. The prison administration said the complaint is very far from the truth and the lawyers of the defendants working to defame the institution in a written reply.
The court has ordered the administrator of the prison to appear before the court in-person, to answer for the compliant of the defendants in the morning session. The administrator, Superintendant Taeme appeared before the court and said that the outcry of the complainants is very far from the truth and he is not informed about it, if there is he said that he can resolve it by conversing with his colleagues.
In particular, the 6th defendant Gelana Negera, the 7th Chimsa Abdissa, the 14th Dereje Merga and the 17th Gemechu Shanko described in their complaint their hands and legs were cuffed the whole day and tied with the bed in the night, they are banned from family visit and they are not allowed to take anything from their families even bottled water and soap. In addition to their written complaints they explained their grievances in the courtroom.
The four defendants told the court they haven’t seen the Administrator before now and what he said is totally wrong.The 14th defendant, Dereje Merga told to the court the handcuff rusted on his hands subsequent it is locked in his hands for several days, it became very difficult for them to unchain it before he enters the courtroom. He showed his handcuffed hands before the court. Even though the judges ordered them to unchain him immediately the warders explained to the court it won’t be unlocked unless it is hack sawed. Then, he attended the hearing while his hands cuffed. And also, the 7th defendant Chimsa Abdissa showed his injured hands as a result of over tightened handcuffs. The defendants explained further In addition to being chained for twenty four hours, they are locked the whole day and night in a suffocated cell with 84 prisoners. The 14th defendant said “we are not speaking about the torture and cruelty we have received while we were in Shewa Robit. History will inquire you that. What we are asking you to stop what is happening to us in this prison and to be seen as humans.”
The Judges asked the defendants if they have submitted their complaints to the higher body of the prison administration, the defendants replied because they are kept handcuffed in a locked room for twenty four hours sending their moaning is unthinkable.
The Judges took a longer time to explain about the rights of a person under trail for the administrator Superintendent Taeme. The judges added that violating the rights of the defendants won’t do well for anyone else and it will have a negative impact on the judicial system of the country in detail. They advised that the crime defendants are charged is on due process of law, so that any other punishment and maltreatment is not acceptable. At last they concluded that the hearing of witnesses will continue for the coming days and the defendants will appear before the court and they will see if there is any change and ordered the administrator to appear before the court for the next day.
The court warned the prosecutor not to do that because he came late in the afternoon session. He explained to the court he has been waiting for the arrival of the witnesses.
The prosecutor told the court he has called two witnesses against the third defendant Addis Bulala. The witnesses, Tafesse Tadesse and Ashenafi Dejene at 9:30am on January 26th 2016 they eye witnessed while texts are printed out from the facebook account of the defendant in federal police department.
The first witness, Tadesse Tafesse started his testimony after taking an oath. The witness failed to identify the defendant in the court, he pointed out his finger on the 8th defendant Getu Girma to show Addisu Bulala. After he was told by the judges he is wrong the witness said it has been a long time since he saw the defendant.
The witness told the court at 9:30 am on January 26th 2016 he was at federal police with his colleague (another witness against Addisu Bulala), they saw Addisu Bulala while he was plugging in and power on, logged in to his facebook account using a password and printed out 54 pages of his dialogue with Jawar Mohammed. He continued they put their signature on the document after the defendant put his signature. When he is asked about the content of the document he replied, he didn’t understand it because most of the conversation they had is in Afaan Oromo, but from the conversation they had in English he remember Addisu wrote to Jawar there are 38 prisoners in jail then jawar replied he will send money for the prisoners.
He was able to identify the document he has put his signature out of other documents. The witness was using jargon phrases and judges warned him not to use them again because they didn’t express anything clearly. But the witness was using them throughout his testimony. The witness answered he is a civil servant when he was examined by the prosecutor what he do for living. In cross-examination the lawyer, Ameha Mekonnen asked him what exactly he is doing in government office, he answered he is working in Lideta Sub City Woreda 06 Administration as an advisor of the chief executive. And also he put in mild for what purpose he went to the federal police department. Under cross-examination the lawyer asked him to put it elaborately, he said that he went to the federal police to give inform the police department about trouble makers related to security.
The witness told the court when the police ordered the defendant, he has opened an account with a name Deka Anbessa, He has conversed with Jawar Mohammed using this fake account and also he heard him when the defendant say that is his account. He is asked how he could remember the name ‘Deka Anbessa’ by Lawyer of the defendants, he answered he took a short note at that time and he has reviewed it when he is called to testimony and regarding Jawar it wasn’t difficult for him to remember because he knew him by fame. Then he was asked by the judges to elaborate what does it mean when he say ‘fame’, he responded that his name is mentioned in the media repeatedly related to Terrorism. He added that the profile picture of Jawar Mohammed is an image of a master plan a slogan “Say no” is written on it and the profile picture of the defendant account was a picture of a woman.
In addition the witness testified that he never met the defendant before and after that day, while he entered to Office No. 31 only the defendant and the interrogator were there and there were more than two computers, tables and a printer in the office.
The second witness, Ashenafi Dejene wasn’t testified because the prosecutor said that he may explain the same fact which is already done by the first witness.
The judges ordered the prosecutor to call more than two witnesses since there is a plenty of time to testify them. But the prosecutor told to the court even though he is sending a call out to the remaining witnesses they aren’t appearing as he wishes. And also he said even he didn’t know which witnesses will appear before the court to testify on which defendant by tomorrow.
The lawyer of the defendants told the court the defendants are not allowed to receive meals from their families, his clients are forced to eat dry bread with water when they spend the whole day in court to attend morning and afternoon sessions. He added that some of the defendants have a health problem and some others came to the hearing without eating anything, in this condition giving them bread for lunch is not fair. The warders told to the court they need an authorization from the court to allow the defendants to receive the meals. The judge said the court gave permission for them in the previous trial, and there mustn’t be give a permission to do that on a daily basis. The court gave an order to the warders if the defendants spend the whole day at the court they should allow the defendants to receive their meal without waiting any more authorization. The court fixed the next day (November 24th, 2016) to hear the remaining witnesses for prosecution.