Addis Abeba, May 15, 2017 – The federal high court 4th criminal bench has once again adjourned to June 07 a key verdict on one of the high-profile terrorism charges in the file name of the first defendant Gurmesa Ayano et al. Included in this file are also high profile opposition party members Bekele Gerba and Dejene Fita Geleta, first secretary general and secretary general of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC).
This morning the court was expected to pass its verdict on whether the 22 defendants were free of the terrorism allegations brought about by the prosecutors or should defend the charges.
The second defendant Dejene Taffa Geleta *Photo: EthioTrialTracker.org
According to our court reporter, who attended the court hearing this morning, the Judges at the Federal High Court 4th criminal bench have told defendants and their defense lawyers that the translation of one of the audio/video materials presented as key witness by prosecutors against 4th defendant Bekele Gerba has not yet been provided to the court. The audio/video material, taken from previous public speeches by Bekele Gerba was submitted to officials at the national broadcasting corporation, EBC, for translations upon the request of the defendant.
The judges also said that even if the audio/video material was submitted, it will take time for the court to review the material.
Although defendants were first detained in Dec. 2015, shortly after the start of widespread anti-government protests in Oromia regional state, the 22 defendants were officially charged with terrorism in April 2016. However, the charges are widely believed to have been politically motivated.
ED’s Note: the original article has been corrected to indicated the defendants were first detained in Dec. 2015, and not 2016, as was earlier mentioned. Sorry!
Cover Photo: 4th defendant Bekele Gerba
Photo: Addis Standard