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News: Supreme Court closes file on the prosecutor’s appeal for closed door, behind curtain hearing against Jawar et. al; refers file to high court

Defendants from left: Bekele Gerba, Jawar Mohammed, Dejene Tafa and Hamza Borana of the opposition party Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC)

By Mahlet Fasil @MahletFasil

Addis Abeba, May 19, 2021- The case of the defendants on Jawar Mohamed’s file was presented to the Federal Supreme Court, 2nd Appeals Bench to pass a decision on prosecutor’s appeal to overturn a decision made by the Federal High Court on the nature of prosecutor’s witness hearing. The judges at the Federal Supreme Court referred the case to the Federal High Court because the prosecutor failed to make the case for the threat posed to its witnesses. 

It is remembered that the Federal High Court Lideta Branch, First Constitutional and Anti-Terrorism Bench prevously ruled that the prosecutor’s witnesses hearing should proceed in open sessions without disclosing the names of he witnesses. The prosecutor filed an appeal at the supreme court and argued that holding witness hearings in open sessions threatens the security of its 146 witnesses. 

At today’s hearing, the defendants did not attend the hearing as per the court’s orders telling them to follow the proceeding through plasma TV. The defendants objected to the decision at the hearing earlier in April. However, the defendants did not attend the hearing through plasma TV and the hearing proceeded with the attendance of their defense team only. 

After ruling to hold witness hearings in open sessions, the Federal High Court suspended the next hearing until April 28, until the final decision by the Supreme Court on the appeal by the prosecutor on the conduct of witness hearing. Today the Supreme Court directed the hearing back to the Federal High Court and closed the file on the prosecutors appeal. AS

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