Journalist Yayesew Shimelis

Mahlet Fasil

Addis Abeba, April 15/2020 – Addis Abeba Police Commission has appealed against Federal First Instance Court’s decision to release Yayesew Shimelis, journalist and producer of Tigray TV Ethio-Forum YouTube segment, on a 25, 000 birr bail.

The Federal First Instance Court has granted a 25, 000 birr bail for journalist Yayesew at a hearing held this morning, the third appearance of the journalist at the same court after he was first detained by the police on March 27. Since his arrest, the police have requested two extensions of six days each to remand and investigate Yayesew, which were granted by the court.

Yayesew’s defense lawyer Tadelle Gebre Medhin told Addis Standard that the court passed the decision to bail Yayesew on the grounds that the police couldn’t advance the investigation with evidences. However Addis Abeba Police Commission appealed against the court’s decision at the Federal Appellant Court in Lideta, which was working on rotation due to reduced capacity owing to COVID-19, and Yayesew, who was expected to be released at 2:00 PM this afternoon, remained in police’s custody. Tadelle said Yayesew was in dire need of getting medical attention for a back pain and gastric ulcer he has developed as of late.

The police were seeking to indict Yayesew under article 485 of the criminal Code which prohibits the deliberate spread of news to cause alarm among the public. It followed Yayesew’s Facebook post which claimed the government has ordered the readying of 200, 000 burial places in anticipation of COVID-19 related death, a post he immediately apologized.

Meanwhile, speaking to selected local media representatives today, Endeshaw Tasew, Federal Police Commission Commissioner, issued a stern warning against individuals, media houses and different groups who, he accused of spreading unfounded rumors and fake news about the COVID-19. The Commissioner said the police have orders to take all the necessary measures without “any precondition” against anyone spreading false information or prohibiting law enforcement agencies from discharging their responsibilities. AS

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