Witnesses for prosecution against Gurmessa Ayano et al hearing has continued: November 17 Hearing

 Four Defendants has filed their human right abuse complaint

The court continued hearing the witnesses for prosecution against Bekelle Gerba and other OFC leaders, Gurmessa Ayano et al (22 persons) have been charged with Anti-Terrorism proclamation.

The Federal high court Lidta 4th bench started hearing the witnesses on yesterday. On Today trial in the afternoon session the court heard three witnesses against four defendants.

Two witnesses are heard against the 15th defendant Yesuf Alemayehu, 16th defendant Hikka Teklu and 22th defendant Halkeno koncchora. The witnesses, Deputy Sajin Mulugeta Tilahun & Constable Shimeles Kuma are federal policemen working in Moyale Custom in Ethiopian and Kenyan border. They witnessed to the court they have captured the15th and 16th defendants on November 16th 2015 at 2pm while they were crossing the Kenyan border to join OLF, after they have received a memo from an intelligence officer Jemberu.

The witnesses said to the court they have learned from the intelligence officer the defendants started their journey from Nekemte Wollega, crossing over Addis Ababa, will reach to Moyale in the road which passes through Dilla town. About the time they have received the information Deputy Sajin Mulugeta said it was at 1pm while Constable Shimeles said it was at 2pm. Deputy Sajin Mulugeta said the intelligence was the one who forced the defendants to goes down from the public bus but Constable Shimeles said that the intelligence officer was accompanied by the squad leader Umer.

The witnesses explained that after the 15th and 16th defendants were searched at the custom office, they have spent the night at local immigration office and then they have brought them to Addis Ababa in a car escorted by the intelligence officer. The witnesses told to the court they didn’t have any information about where the defendants have planned to go except the intelligence officer has told them they are going to join OLF after crossing Kenyan border.

The witnesses admitted that they don’t know anything about the 22th defendant Halkeno koncchora (Kenyan Citizen) except they were told by the intelligence officer he has agreed to pass over Hika Teklu and Yusuf Alemayhu to Kenya with 500 Kenyan shilling. But they said that while they were coming to Addis Ababa Halkeno told them he used to traffic humans across the border receiving 500 Kenyan shilling.

Then again Deputy Sajin Mulugeta spoke to the court the vehicle identification number of the car the defendants used to go to Moyale is 87308 but Constable Shimeles said it is 47308.

The next witness heard was against the 21st defendant Abdissa Kumsa. The witness, Adugna Kerra was able identify and show the defendant in the courtroom. He refused to disclose his address. He told to the court that at 3pm on evening of December 19th 2015 while he was having fun with friends in Oromia Region, Western Shewa Zone, Gagi town around Hailu Megazen, he saw an unfamiliar guy and reported to the police and the guy was arrested.

“Federal police was in the city since there was unrest in the surrounding at that time. I have reported to those policemen. The policemen found two national identification cards (One from Jeldu Woreda and the other from Addis Ababa) when they searched the defendant.” the witness uttered. Then he was taken to Gagi police station according to the witness. The witness said that after making the defendant to spend the night in the police station, he saw while the defendant was making a statement in the morning.

The witness added “I heard while the defendant said that he has been meeting with other persons that have organized themselves in Addis Ababa around Quas Meda since election 2005. I heard him when he said that they have been discussing about OLF while he was making a statement. Images of OLF flag were also found in his phone.” While he was cross-examined if he heard while the defendant was making a statement for what purpose the defendant went to Gagi City “I heard when he said he came to Gigi to pay a visit to his child who is in the city” he replied.   When he was asked what exactly did the defendant said about OLF, he said “I heard when he said that he is a member of OLF”.

After hearing the witnesses called on that day, the court adjourned the trial to hear the remaining witnesses for prosecution for the next day. On the other hand, four defendants (Gelana Negera, Chemssa Abdisa, Dereje Merga and Gemechu Shanko) accused the Kilinto prison administration for severely violating their human rights and asked the court to stop these in a written complaint.

The complainants explained in their complaint that they have been cuffed on their legs and hands and beaten up the whole day and night starting from the third of December 2016. They were subjected to human right abuses following the fire in Kilinto prison on the third of December and they were told that they are the one who ablaze it or they knew who ablaze it and they should tell the truth. They were told “If you expose who ablaze the prison you will be presumed innocent, then you will be testified and you will go out, otherwise you will not go out dead or alive.” They stated in the complaint their hands and legs were cuffed the whole day and tied with the bed in the night. So, they asked the court to stop these inhuman and non-constitutional acts.

The court handed over the complaint to the prison representative and ordered him to make the necessary correction after looking the grievance of the defendants before it start hearing this specific case. In addition, the court reluctantly ordered the prison to submit a written answer to the complaint on the coming Monday (November 21st 2016). These Complainants were brought to the court and returned back to prison in a separate van and there were not allowed to be mixed with other defendants till the hearing started.

Previously, Ethiopian Human rights project gave an explanation in a special report that in the investigation it carried out it is found the number of peoples died in the Kilinto fire is more than what the government revealed and also the state is preparing to make accountable and to frame a charge on several prisoners who survived the blazing while the incident isn’t investigated by a neutral body.


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