Mahlet Fasil @MahletFasil
Addis Abeba, July 21/2020 – Ethiopian Federal police told judges at the Federal First Instance Court, Arada Branch, that they were investigating three senior officials of TPLF and two drivers detained with them for passing classified materials to terrorists, and intent to incite violence, defense lawyer Tadelle G/Medhin told Addis Standard.
Two of the senior TPLF officials are Tewelde G/Tsadikan, TPLF Central Committee member and head of the party’s Addis Abeba bureau, and Tesfalem Yihdego, Director of Federal Legal and Justice Research Institute with the rank of state minister, and former TPLF Central Committee member. They were arrested on July 09 from Addis Abeba along with two drivers of the Research Institute (Berihun and Zerihun), followed shortly by the arrest of Atsibeha Alemayehu, Addis Abeba, Akaki sub city security bureau head and an employee of Information Network Security Agency (INSA).
The five accused were brought to the court yesterday for the second time, according to their lawyer Tadelle. During the pretrial hearing the police told federal judges that they have not finalized gathering evidence to support the allegation and therefor need 14 more days to remand and investigate the accused, locate co-conspirators who are still at large, gather more witness testimonials and additional evidence. The police said they have already interviewed the accused and have communicated relevant documents with INSA.
All the five denied the accusations against them. Tewelde and Tesfalem have told the court that they have been loyally serving their country from the times of the struggle against the military Derg regime. Tadelle also appealed to the court on his clients behalf that they should be set free as the police have failed to materialize the said terrorists by name. The defense also argued that his clients were exposed to COVID-19 at the prison they were held at, Addis Abeba police commission, third police station in Piassa, where there were confirmed cases of the virus, and were unable to meet families and the defense team.
After listening to both sides, the judges have granted the police 8 more days to remand and investigate Tewelde G/Tsadikan, Tesfalem Yihdego and the two drivers, and adjourned the next hearing on July 28. The judges also granted the police 10 more days to remand and investigate Atsibeha Alemayehu and adjourned the next hearing on July 30.
In addition, the judges told the police that the detainees should be allowed family visitations and meeting with their defense team, Tadelle said. AS