Prosecutor presents five witnesses against Gurmessa Ayano ( Bekele Gerba) et al (Dec 28/2016 hearing)

It was to hear the rest witnesses against the first charge that this adjournment was given for Dec 28/2016. Federal Prosecutor presented the witnesses to testify on the issue of the protest erupted in Abune Gindeberet Woreda of Bekie Kelatie town and whether the OFC members were involved in the violence in 2015.

Tolossa Beyene was the second witness as the first one was heard yesterday. The witness who said he was administrator of the particular woreda told the court that he was given an advice from police to suspiciously go after Medrek for Unity and Democracy Party members (Medrek), which OFC is a member party.

The witness told that what was feared became real when protesters occupied the Woreda office and remove the federal flag on the 11 Dec 2015.  Protestors had slogans such as ‘Master Plan should not be effective’, ‘OPDO is a puppet’, ‘the one who should administer Oromia is OLF’, “death for EFRDF” etc.

The witness also added that after three days the protesters occupied the prison in the town and threatened guards to drop their guns and let prisoners go that resulted to the deaths of six individuals, damage on the police station, courts and other government offices. The witness added that he was able to escape and save his life with the help of the military on the following day. Asked by the judges if he knows any Medrek official who took part in the violence in the particular woreda, the witness said he knew no one.

 

A witness named Molla Getnet was who followed as a witness against the 3rd detainee (Addisu Bullalla) told the court that he was an observer when the police asked detainee to open his email and printed testimonials on 11 Feb 2016 in Maekelawi federal police criminal investigative office. He claimed that he was there incidentally to visit his uncle, an individual named Berihun Melak. He told the court that he saw that the detainee opened his email bulala6@gmail.com  and printed 19 pages of materials written in Afaan Oromo. The witness, who claimed that he works for the Yeka sub-city of Addis Ababa justice bureau, remembered that there was also another observer whom he said that he knew. He mentioned he knows the other observer as their offices are near to each other.

Asked about how he came to know whether the medium of expression of the written material was Afaan Oromo, the witness said, “I just saw it roughly and felt it was Afaan Oromo.” Asked to identify the specific file among various other files, he was able to identify. The other witness was not heard as the prosecutor claimed that the issue is similar to the first one.

The other two witnesses were also presented against the 14th detainee (Dereje Merga). Girum Alemayehu who told the court that he is a DJ, was the first. He claimed that he was asked to observe the case when he went to Maekelawi on the 03 Dec 2015 with a friend who works to participate in a bid the same office announced for the nations and nationalities day celebration.

“Dereje was quite relaxed and did not show any frustration at the time when asked to open his email and printed 77 pages of paper in Afaan Oromo language on which the OLF flag appears,” said the witness. Replying to the cross examination questions forwarded both from the lawyer and clarification question from judges, the witness said he can identify Afaan Oromo letters and the OLF flag due to his media exposure even if he cannot speak the language.

Daniel Dejene was the second witness presented against the 14th detainee.  The witness told the court that he works decor and was asked to observe at the particular day. the witness who mentioned that the detainee willingly opened and printed the 77 pages of paper from his facebook message box, claimed that he identify the OLF flag as there is a tree on it and it was not that of Oromia regional state which has the same tree on it. The lawyer asked him to describe how the flag looks like and the witness said he could identify it if he could see it but cannot exactly describe. The lawyer challenged him asking if any flag with a tree picture on it belongs either to Oromia or OLF, the witness said he thinks so.

 

The other witnesses were presented against Abdeta Negassa. They claimed that they had seen provoking music clips on the personal computer of the detainee during the time they were asked to observe. The first witness Fikralem Adane was unable to identify the detainee and claimed that he had seen him for only 30 minutes a year ago.  He told the court that he was there at Maekelawi on the 26th January 2016 for his personal reasons. He further said that the detainee had willingly showed four pages of paper and four music clips. Among the four pages one was in Amharic and slogans such as ‘the question of the youth is the question of the greater public’, ‘our land is being grabbed, and ‘obey the constitution’ etc.

The rest five were witnesses who claimed that they work for ‘Raey and Abyot Security Services’ and they went to Maekelawi for security related service and asked to observe there by the police, and they did. They claimed that the video clip consisted of motion pictures of soldiers, dead bodies, as well as officials and children holding the OLF flag which made them think it were a provoking music clip.

A total of five witnesses; three in the morning session and two in the afternoon were heard against the 3rd, 14th and 5th detainees today. The hearing was attended by OFC officials and diplomatic community representatives. Hearing of other witnesses adjourned for Dec 29/2016.

 

*on the December 28th hearing, lawyer Wondimu Ibssa asked the court for the detainees to be allowed to enjoy their lunch from their visitors as they had to stay the whole day at the court. Court gave order accordingly in favor of the request.

The fourth defendant (Bekele Gerba) asked the court to be allowed to meet his relative who was not allowed by the prison administration to visit him at Kilinto. The court gave verdict for the police to put him with his relatives in touch for five minutes. The police did it for one minute.

Oromo language translator was not assigned in the hearing.  As a result, hearing was presided in a way that those who can speak Amharic assisting those who do not.

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