The President of Awash International Bank SC (AIB), Tsehay Shiferaw’s bail hearing was rescheduled for next Tuesday, March 5,
in a suspected hit-and-run case that resulted in death.
The First Instance Court, Kirkos district, heard opposing views from the police and defence lawyers on the applicability of bail at a hearing held on Thursday February 28.
Tsehay is suspected in a hit-and-run accident, which caused the death of an unnamed individual, on the night of February 25th and had his first hearing the next day. According to the Police, the deadly car accident allegedly occurred on the Meri road, extending beyond the CMC road, while the victim was making his way over a Zebra crossing around 9pm.The suspect, Tsehay was supposedly at the scene at the time of the accident. Police argued that the testimonies of at least two witnesses need to be taken into account, in addition to several others who have already given their testimony, ,and hence they claimed, bail should be denied.
They further insisted that forensics evidence had to be processed first and incomplete evidences preclude the granting of bail.
The police also said that the fact that the crime occurred on a “zebra crossing” means that Article 543, sub article 3, could be invoked, waiving the suspect’s right to bail.
Article 543(3) relates to homicide by negligence and states that punishment shall be rigorous imprisonment of up to fifteen years where the criminal has negligently caused the death of a person or where he has deliberately infringed on express rules and regulations disregarding that such consequences may follow or even where he has put himself in a state of irresponsibility by taking drugs or alcohol. A fine, ranging from 10,000 birr to 15,000 birr is also levied in this case.
The defense on its part stated that there are eyewitnesses willing to testify to the contrary regarding the incident and that there were no visible scratches or dents on the front side of the car, even though the victim had reportedly been tossed 15 meters into the air. They also countered that there were no grounds for preventing bail while the legal provision for the possible indictment of Tsehay hasn’t been revealed yet.
The defense also questioned the credibility of the statements made by eyewitnesses, asking how the witnesses weren’t able to identify the color of the car, even though they had identified the plate number.
The defense asked that Tsehay be granted bail, with restrictions limiting his movements, and presented a letter from the AIB’s Board of directors, informing his “decisive” role in activities involving the government, such as “Anti-Money Laundering” and “Anti-Terrorism” laws.
Tsehay informed the court that it was actually he who called the police when his car’s rear windshield was smashed, apparently by “eyewitnesses” who followed his vehicle, and asked why he would call and report to the police if he was responsible for the incident and was running away. The judge ruled that, although he didn’t see any legal provisions for keeping him in jail for the moment, he needed to hear the accounts of the remaining witnesses to make a final decision, and ruled that final bail hearing be on March 5, 2013.
Tsehay has been in custody since the accident on Monday February 25th .