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Mahlet Fasil

Addis Abeba, August 03/2018 – Federal prosecutors said they have finalized preparations to press charges against five individuals suspected of involvement in the June 23 bombing at a rally in Addis Abeba organized to support Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s reform agenda. The suspects are: Abdissa Kenene, Getu Girma, Dessalegn Tesfaye, Hiwot Geda & Bahiru Tola.

Currently police are investigating a total of 18 individuals in two separate counts. The first 10 individuals are under investigation suspected of negligence in relation to security laps at the rally; the other eight are under investigation suspected of direct involvement in the bombing. Among the ten suspected of negligence include former Addis Abeba Police deputy commissioner Girma Kassa and and nine other police officers with different ranks.  Among the eight suspected of direct involvement include Tesfaye Urgi, former division head at Ethiopia’s National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), who was detained at later date.

Three different files are opened against the 18 suspects. The first file contains names of five suspects, including Hiwot Tefera, the only female suspect who was admitted to St. Amanuel Mental Hospital. The second file contains names of two suspects while the third file contains the remaining. The five to be charged are among the eight suspected to having direct involvement in the bombing.

The suspects who were brought to the federal high court first instance bench have repeatedly filed complaints of mistreatment and abuse while under police custody. They have also asked to be released on bail. The police have dismissed allegations of mistreatment and abuse and told the court that suspects are in daily contact with their families. The police also said they can present CCTV footage monitoring the prison treatments of the suspects and further told the court that if need be an independent inquiry committee can be established to look into allegations of abuses.

After listening to both sides of the argument, the court ordered an official from the prison administration to appear in court during next hearing and explain  suspects’ claim of mistreatment; but the court rejected the suspects’ request for bail. The court also granted the police to file the charges against the five suspects within the coming 15 days and adjourned the next hearing until August 29.

It is understood that the suspects are held at the federal prison in Piasa, next to Addis Abeba Police Commission, a prison complex which is relatively fitted with better accommodation than the near by infamous Ma’ekelawi, which was reportedly closed recently. AS 

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