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News: Fed. High court sustains ruling to hold closed door, behind curtain witness testimony against Sebhat Nega et. al; defendants appeal at cassation court

Among the top former senior TPLF officials currently on trial are Sebehat Nega, Kidusan Nega and Abay Woldu

By Mahlet Fasil @MahletFasil

Addis Abeba, May 21, 2021- The Federal first instance court, Arada Bench, 1st appointment bench today passed a decision on the request made by the defense team of the defendants on Abreha Tekeste’s file. The lawyers demanded a constitutional inquiry council to look into the application of some proclamations regarding the prosecutor’s witness hearing. The court rejected the demand and sustained its decision to hold the witness hearing in closed sessions.

One of the issues raised by the lawyers was, the discrepancy between the span of time when the alleged crimes took place and the revision of the anti terrorism proclamations. The lawyers also argued that the constitution does not clearly stipulate the applications of witness protection proclamation to the rights of the accused which are stated under article 20/1 of the constitution. 

The lawyers’ appeal to the supreme court resulted in the postponement of  the prosecutors witness hearing until the supreme court rules on whether or not the witness hearing takes place behind curtains and in closed sessions. The lawyers’ argument was  that the prosecutor failed to detail the conditions of the behind the curtain closed door witness hearing.  The prosecutors asked the court to have a semi-closed witness hearing for the preliminary testimony of 53 its witnesses. 

The hearing which was set to rule on the lawyers appeal ended with the court rejecting their demand for a constitutional inquiry council to look into the application of some proclamations regarding the conduct of witness hearing. The court was adjourned until May 25, 2021 for the commencement of the prosecutor’s witness hearing in a closed door behind the curtain witness hearing. 

Meanwhile, the defense team told Addis Standard that it has filed an appeal at the Federal Supreme Court Cassation Bench to repeal the decision. The hearing took place this afternoon where the court gave an appointment for May 24, 2021 to pass a decision. AS

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