From left: Eskinder Nega, Sintayehu Chekol and keleb Seyoum. Picture: Balderas/Social media 

By Mahlet Fasil @MahletFasil

Addis Abeba, September 09/2020 – The federal prosecutors have charged Eskendir Nega, founder and leader of the opposition Balderas for Genuine Democracy, and two others with terrorism, and four others with criminal charges (two of them in absentia), at the Federal High Court Lideta Branch.

Henok Aklilu, Eskinder’s lawyer, told Addis Standard that the charges were brought against the defendants in their absence and they are yet to receive copies of the charge sheet. Henok said he first heard the news from state affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporation. Henok is currently at the premises of the Federal Court waiting for more information on the nature of the charges, he said.

Addis Standard has learnt that in addition to Eskinder, Sintayehu Chekol, another senior member of Balderas party, Keleb Seyoum, former executive member of the opposition Unity Party and is originally from Gonder, Amhara regional state, are among the seven charged today. Like Eskinder, Keleb was serving a prison term after being convicted of terrorism before the release of political prisoners in March 2018. She was arrested in Addis Abeba while looking for a job soon after her university graduation. A mother of one at that time, Keleb was nursing her first born when she was convicted of terrorism.

It is not clear if Keleb and Sintayehu are the other two defendants facing terrorism charges. The remaining defendants are: Askale Demmissie, Getnet Bekele, Ashenafi Aweke and Tithawi Gebremedihin (the later two in absentia).

Eskinder, Sintayehu and Keleb were arrested in the first week of July following the June 29 assassination of prominent Oromo artist Hachalu Hundessa. The police accused them of inciting violence in Addis Abeba in the aftermath of the assassination. AS

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