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News: Police bring several ONN journalists, others to court; seek charges on links with armed group, inciting violence


By Mahlet Fasil @MahletFasil

Addis Abeba, September 10/2020 – The federal police have brought 22 people, including eight journalists, camera crew and technicians working for the online based Oromo Media Network (ONN), at the Federal First Instance Court Arada Branch on September 09.

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On September 05, the police raided Kaku Mame Oromo Traditional Cuisine Restaurant, located in Lideta Sub City, Awash Insurance Bank Building, 5th floor, and arrested a total of 29 people who were taking part in a New Year special program production for ONN. The detained individuals include ONN crew, artists and other invited guests.

The police brought 22 of the 29 detainees to the Court yesterday where they sought additional 14 days to remand and investigated them. Seven of the 29 were already released.

Tuli Bayissa, one of the lawyers, told Addis Standard that the police accused the detainees of preparing to incite violence in collaboration with the armed group Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), a group the government is currently involved in military engagements in western and southern Oromia regional state. The lawyers deny the accusation and said the detainees were arrested while filming a special program production for Ethiopia’s New Year, which will be celebrated tomorrow. Broadcast media houses often organize holiday specials from known places such as hotels, restaurants and other entertainment places.

The investigation file is opened in journalist Desu Dula name, Tuli said, adding that yesterday, the judges have adjourned the hearing for today. This is the second time in as many months that Dula is being held in police custody. In March, Oromia police arrested two journalists, Dula and Waqo Nole, from the network while they were visiting a prisoner in Burayu town, in Oromia Regional State Special Zone Surrounding Finfinne, some 25 km north of the capital Addis Abeba. They were both released since.

During Yesterday’s hearing the judges allowed a 10, 000 birr bail for Artist Garumma Hunde, who was severely ill and has collapsed during the hearing. Garumma is on 16 different types of medication for health complications, Tuli said.

During today’s hearing, the court allowed the police seven days (beginning from the day they were arrested) to remand and investigate the and subsequently adjourned the next hearing until Saturday September 12. AS

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