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Mahlet Fasil

Addis Abeba, June 20/ 2017 – Federal prosecutors have today submitted their objections against the statement from Dr. Merera Gudina. Last month, Dr. Merera’ lawyers have submitted a letter requesting for the criminal charges against him to be separated from the terrorism charges against the two foreign based media organizations OMN and ESAT, in the same file. Today, the court received the written objection from the prosecutors and adjourned the next hearing to give its verdict to July 07.

Dr. Merera, Chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) has objected to the charges stating, among others, the multiple criminal charges he is facing as having nothing to do with the terrorism charges brought against OMN and ESAT, which are co-defendants in the same file.

In their response today, prosecutors have asked the court to dismiss Dr. Merera’s objection on the grounds that he has failed to include his objection along with his preliminary Objection. Prosecutors have also made a case that the charges against all defendants in the same file, including Jawar Mohammed, executive director of OMN, and Dr. Berhanu Nega, leader the Patriotic G7, a rebel group already listed as a terrorist organization, are interrelated in many ways.

Dr. Merera’s initial preliminary objection included for the charges against him to be dismissed all together or his right to a bail to be upheld. The court dismissed both and upheld prosecutors’ request. However, on June 02, the defense team of Dr. Merera submitted another objection stating the criminal charges against Dr. Merera to be separated from the terrorism charges against OMN and ESAT, listed as co-defendants in a file under his name.

Dr. Merera is facing multiple criminal charges that include an attempt to violently overthrow the constitutional order. Except for Dr. Merera, the case against all defendants is being seen in absentia.

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In a related news, during the last hearing on June 2nd, the judges have told federal Prosecutors that the terrorism charges against OMN and ESAT lacked critical details such as the legal status of the organizations, timeline of their establishments and countries they were operating from. Today, prosecutors have submitted an improved version of the charges against the two media organizations.

However, this morning the court has declined to give copies of the improved charges to lawyers representing Dr. Merera Gudina stating that they were not representing the media organizations. The court also adjourned to give its response to the improved charges on the same date on July 07. AS

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