Addis Abeba, November 21/2018 – Yared Zerihun, former deputy head of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) told the federal high court 10th criminal bench today that the “the wild rumors by the time of my arrest tempted me to take my own life.” Zerihun also said the allegations that he has caused severe human rights abuses, charges the police are accusing him of, were false.
Yared Zerihun was arrested on November 15 in what the police alleged was a hotel room in Dukem, some 30 km south of Addis Abeba and was brought to the capital the same day. The police said they have arrested him while he was on the run and said he was using multiple ID cards to conceal himself. But speaking at the court today, Yared refuted the allegations and said he would have presented himself to the police had he been contacted. He also said his four kids were facing pressure from the trial of public opinion and biased portrayals of him as a cruel human rights offender when he was the deputy of NISS, a position he said he only served for a year and a half, although he was working at the agency since 2005, including as head of the intelligence department for southern regional state. During all this times, Yared said he had gone through five surgeries.
He also complained that he was being targeted due to his identity. As to his position as a short time commissioner general of the Federal Police Commission, Yared said accepted the assignment because he supported PM Abiy Ahmed’s reform agenda. However, he was forced to resign as was unable to perform his duties due to poor health. By the time of his arrest, he said he was waiting for a different appointment from PM Abiy Ahmed, who he said has consulted his resignation as the police commissioner.
Speaking about lack of due process while in police custody Yared said he has neither received the charges in detail, nor has given a statement to the police since his arrest almost a week ago.
Update: At a pre-trial hearing at Fed. Court 10th criminal bench today, the police accused Yared Zerihun of #NISS of gross rights abuse & corruption. He is also accused of collaborating with former head of NISS Getachew Assefa, now treated as fugitive after warrant is issued. pic.twitter.com/aeuT8ogvm2
— Addis Standard (@addisstandard) November 16, 2018
The police however assert they have interviewed more than 60 witnesses and have enough evidence to charge the accused with the alleged crimes and have requested the court for additional 14 days. However, because the police have failed to attache material evidence along with the file containing lists of allegations against the accused, the presiding judge adjourned another hearing tomorrow during which the police were told to bring the preliminary investigation report along with material evidence. AS