A court in Addis Abeba today granted the police investigating the case of three independent journalists and six bloggers ten more days before the next hearing.
According to defense lawyer Amha Meokonnen, the police have submitted an application for no-bail at the Arada First Instance Court, First Bench claiming the investigation was a serious matter.
No charges were brought as of yet but the police have said the detainees have more collaborators who may help them to escape the country. The police have also said they were yet to finish confiscating equipments belonging to detainees including computers and printed documents, and they were yet to have some of the documents translated from English to Amharic.
Defense lawyer Amha Meokonnen further said that the police indicated that the investigation may lead to a link between detainees and unnamed foreign organizations engaged in terrorism activities. “They accused some of the detainees of traveling to Kenya and other countries in Africa” to take trainings intended to disrupt the upcoming general elections in Ethiopia.
Tesfalem Waldyes (Photo Addis Standard)
The court has granted the no-bail application by the police until May 17th when the next hearing will be. However, the court suspended the incommunicado status and allowed family visits to the detainees as of tomorrow May 8th. One of the nine detained journalist Asmamaw Gebregiorgis, senior editor at the weekly Amharic Addis Guday, was allowed to have a visit from family members this morning on the bases of poor health.
Friends, family members and a few members of foreign diplomats were at the court hearing which was already postponed from 10 am in the morning to 2pm this afternoon. Many friends took to twitter to express their shock at the sight of the three journalists and six bloggers handcuffed and surrounded by the police on their way to the court. “Edom [Kassye], Natnail [Feleke], and Atnaf [Berhane] just passed us. Atnaf look strong, Edy and Natty look tired. The arrogance of the police is beyond imagination,” tweeted Hallelujah Lulie.
Edom Kassaye (Photo: friends/twitter)
It is so depressing seeing @ethioliberity [the twitter adress of Natnail Feleke], and other bright citizens handcuffed like a criminal,” tweeted another Ethiopian Ezana Haddis from the scene of the court. The crowd was not allowed inside the court room.
In a related development, the police have detained Kiya Tsegaye, a law graduate, was detained by the police at the scene of the court and was taken to Maekelawi, the same center where the nine detainees are kept since they were first detained. in April 25th and 26th.
On April 25th and 26th the police have detained journalist Tesfalem Waldyes, who was freelancing for the weekly Addis Fortune and the monthly Addis Standard, freelance journalist Edom Kassaye, and Asmamaw Gebregiorgis, senior editor at an Amharic weekly Addis Guday, as well as six members of the Zone9 blog, Befekadu Hailu. Mahlet Fantahun, Atnaf Berhane, Natnael Feleke, Zelalem Kibret and Abel Wabela.
Cover Photo: Zelalem Kibret and Atnaf Berhane