Addis Abeba – The Federal First Instance Court Arada branch has today overruled police’s request for more days and ordered investigation results on two Associated Press (AP) journalists – journalist Amir Aman and cameraman Thomas Engida.
The police requested judges for 14 more days to remand the journalists and complete the investigation. On 22 February, after initially requesting 14 days, police was given nine days to complete police investigation. However, the court ordered the police to finish the investigation and adjourned the next hearing until Monday 08 March.
During today’s hearing, the investigating police officer also said that they had done various investigation while the suspects were in custody. Among the works done so far were sending electronic devices taken from the journalists to the National Intelligence and Security Agency for investigation. The police officer also said that the investigation police had asked NISS office to send technical evidence about the journalists. For that, the police said they would need the 14 days to collect the information. The police used similar argument in the last hearing for which the court granted the nine days.
Defendant’s lawyers, for their part, told the court that the date requested by the police should not be granted because its a repeated request whereas no progress has been made in the investigation so far. It is an indication that the police were not doing their job and should therefore not be given additional days, the defendants lawyers argued.
In mid-December last year, the federal police commission announced that it arrested two journalists and a cameraman for allegedly promoting the Oromo Liberation Army, (OLA) on an international level. “The journalists who were paid large sums of money to promote Shanee (a term used by government officials to refer to OLA) in the West Shewa zone are being investigated under police custody,” the statement reads. Addisu Muluneh,who was working with ruling party affiliated FanaBC by the time of his arrest, has since been released.
In a statement this week, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) acknowledged that “Journalists Amir Aman Kiyaro, Thomas Engida and Tamrat Negera are still detained since they were arrested late last year in the context of the state of emergency. RSF calls on the authorities to stop this harassment and to release them immediately.” AS