Capital Ethiopia Newspaper

Self-Inflicted

photo: Anteneh Aklilu

The joint investigation team, formed by Federal and Addis Ababa Police,  which was set up to investigate the death of Semegnew Bekele, manager of the GRED, concluded last Friday that he committed suicide. Zeynu Jemal, the Federal Police Commissioner revealed that the manager was struggling with himself prior to his decision to take his own life.
The team discovered eyewitnesses who saw the engineer at Mesqel Square, before he died.
The engineer returned from the site of the Dam on July 19, 2018, and attended meetings at the Ministry of Water, Irrigation, and Electricity on 23rd of July.
He reportedly visited the Metals and Engineering Corporation (METEC) in the Nifas Silk Laphto Sub city a day before he died.
“On the last night of his life he gathered his children and told them to study and stay strong,” said Zeynu.
“The next day, he woke up early and only had a cup of coffee and went to his office. The cleaners watched him going to the toilet again and again. He gave one letter to his secretary and two to his drivers to deliver at different places”.
The engineer left seven letters in general which police said have his signature proved by forensic tests.
He sent one of his drivers to the Government Communications Office the day he died where he was expected to meet with journalists to  take them to the GERD and give a brief press conference on the trip.
“The letter shows that he wanted to go overseas but he could not,” Zeynu told Journalists. “The letters also implicates that even if he went outside he felt like he has nothing to explain to the people. Unfortunately, there was nothing in his letter giving a sufficient explanation for his death.”
The special team organized to investigate the death of the manager of the most expensive project in the country started its job of analyzing the autopsy report from the hospital.
The next step was investigating the gun used, a Colt 38, which was registered in his name in the Addis Ababa Police commission ten years ago.
The car was the third item to be investigated by the police. According to expert evidence which was obtained from the MOENCO the Toyota V8 car couldn’t be centrally locked from the outside part while the engine was working.
Police revealed for the first time that the engineer was found while having a seizure and his motor was on while the car was centrally locked.
Also, police investigated Semegnew’s two cell phones found in his car. He called his son only nine minutes before his death.  He also called his secretary who has a close relationship with him and the family and told her to call his elder child and take care of him.
The GERD was launched on April 2, 2011. It was expected to be finished in six years. The dam was expected to be the largest on the continent. Eighty billion birr was allocated for the dam’s construction. It is expected to generate over five thousand megawatts of power.
According to an investigative report released this week by Walta TV and Fana TV 70 billion birr was spent on work related to this project as of the end of August.
“Salini, civil works contracting company, received 17.54 billion birr in 84 payments which is 79 percent of the entire payment,” narrates the report. “Unfortunately METEC received 16.79 billion birr, which is 65 percent of the total payment for 25% performance.”
The Federal Police Commissioner inferred that the letter written by Semegnew shows that he was under difficult pressure because the dam’s construction had not gone as expected, because he is the one who signed the payments.
METEC received five billion birr for work that was undone and Salini requested additional payments because the electromechanical work done by METEC was delayed.
The commissioner said the manager was under a lot of stress.
The team also investigated the break-in of one of the bedrooms in his house on the day of the funeral. The arrest of one individual was reported. The robbery targeted the properties of Semegnew’s relatives who came from the overseas.
Semegnew was the one who signed every check for the dam. As you know the payment made for METEC and the performance of the dam didn’t match. He was observed by the people around him as being disappointed.
Zeynu revealed that investigations on the circumstances of causes which pushed Semegnew to end his own life are still being investigated by the team.
“The mismanagement of the GERD is also under investigation and police will bring the suspects to face justice,” said Zeynu.