News: Four OLF High-ranking Officers Remain Behind Bars contradicting Court Order

By Alemitu Homa  @alemituhoma

Addis Abeba: The four Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) officers, Mikael Boran, Dawit Abdeta, Lemi Begna, and Gada Gabisa were declared free by Burayu District Court following an assessment of their Habeas Corpus request on 18 July,2022. The remainder of the release procedure has been finalized as of 25 July, however they remain in police custody their lawyer told Addis Standard.

“We have completed all the legal processes and submitted a letter to the Burayu Police Station and the Oromia Police Commission. However, they have remained silent after receiving the letter, without giving any further reply,” said the lawyer of the OLF officials.

OLF issued a statement, on 26 July,2022 calling for the immediate and unconditional release of its party leaders who are imprisoned without committing any crimes. The statement added, even though OLF is a legally registered party, the leaders, officers and members of the party are illegally detained. Furthermore, the OLF statement said that the courts at various levels have been ordering the release of the members, leaders and officials of the party after confirming their acquittal. In the same statement, OLF cited reports of Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) that confirmed illegal detention of political party members.

When asked what the next legal steps could be for the release of the four OLF officers, their lawyer said, “There is nothing left in the courts. The court and the prosecutor acquitted them. The problem is with the Police.”

Addis Standard contacted Deputy Commissioner of the Oromia Police Commission, Girma Galan to comment on the complaint of the officers’ lawyers. He declined citing that information will not be given unless contacted in person.

The National Electoral  Board of Ethiopia in a letter dated 4 March, 2022 said it established petition investigative teams in Oromia, Benishangul Gumuz, Southern Nations and Peoples region, Amhara, Southwest and Sidama regions as well as in Addis Abeba municipality following complaint from opposition parties. The investigation team constituted of one member from the ruling party, two members from the NEBE and one from the petitioning parties.

After the committee completed its investigation, the election board said that some administrative and judicial bodies view the OLF as an illegal party . The committee also visited 29 prisons and  facilitated the release of 82 people including the chairman of OLF as well as 13 members of Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC). However, the majority of OLF members remain behind bars. 

Last May, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) released a report on its investigation into the detention of Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) leaders in various detention centers in Oromia. The report confirmed that many OLF leaders and members are “illegally detained”. It was also documented that the OLF has repeatedly demanded the release of its leaders and confirmed that they were tortured by the police while in custody. AS

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