Major cases heard in court this week

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Tesfaye Urge charged with additional crimes

The former Director of the Anti-terrorism Directorate at the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), Tesfaye Urge is alleged to have committed additional crimes. The man was arrested 4.5 months ago under suspicion of organizing an assassination on Prime Minister Abey Ahmed (PHD) at a public rally in the Meskel Square.
However he was not charged with those crimes but instead Tesfaye became suspected of grave corruption and human rights violations. Among the allegations, kidnapping citizens for financial gain, illegal money transfer, abuse of power, inhuman treatment of people, and accumulating wealth beyond his income. “He kidnapped and threw innocent citizens in different locations for as long as five months with such harsh treatment that some became disabled. He told the people he did this to that they were suspected of terrorism,” said the investigation team leader to the court. “He would throw them in dumping areas naked for them to be eaten by insects.”
Tsfaye denied the charges saying that his specific role in the stated allegations was not established. He denied committing these acts and said he was legally entitled to arrest people. He demanded the 10th criminal bench at the Federal High Court (FHC), Lideta Division, grant his bail rights claiming that he was under arrest by police for almost five months without any charges being pressed.
Police opposed the claim of bail bond stating that many of the witnesses are still in trauma and they will not testify If the suspect is out of prison. Also the investigator elaborated to the court that the suspect might destroy evidence if released on bail.
Police stated that Tesfaye used to recruit youth to travel to Asmera and after they come back he used to communicate them in the Terrorist Groups for a financial interest.
Attached in the file Name of Goa-Atsbeha et al Tesfaye Urge has become part of the latest operation by the government which caused the arrest of more than 70 people.
The presiding judge asked the police if it had enough grounds to suspect Tesfaye and also if it had enough evidence.
The court has accepted the police request for a 14 day investigation period and adjourned to December 3, 2018.
M/G Kinfe Dagnew and Essayas Dagnew
The 10th criminal bench of FHC, Lideta division, heard the M/G KInfe Dagnew’s Bali request and his brother, Essayas Dagnew’s case last Monday.
M/G Knife’s lawyer stated that he was not able to talk with his client alone and he told the court that he was obliged to discuss it in the presence of investigators. Responding to the claim, the investigator stated that the only issue he was aware from the lawyer was the suspect was not getting cigarettes, wondering why the lawyer didn’t mention he faced the problem at the moment it occurred.
The attorney opposed the brining of the cigarette issue to the court as inappropriate. He also told the court that he was hapless to report the case to the same authority who abandoned his client’s constructional right.
The court stressed to police to facilitate the condition in which the suspect can discuss issues confidentially with their lawyer.
Essayas Dagnew is suspected by police to be involved in corruption while he was in Ethio-telcom giving a tower construction project in the Somali Region to MeTEC with intent to benefit from the contact unlawfully. Police said the project was unsuccessful and 50 million birr was the total cost.
Essayas gave his sworn affidavit that he couldn’t hire an attorney because of his low income.
Police appeared with the asset registration date in the Federal Ethics and Anti corruption with the suspect registered assets over three million birr eight years ago. The public attorney countered that the registration was made many years back and police have to bring evidence showing the property still belongs to the suspect.
Police refereed to the law regarding the public servants’ property registration proclamation which made mandatory the updating of the file every two years and the presumption of the same law to sustain once properties if not reported the update. Police also referred that the same proclamation listed penalties for those people who didn’t update.
Among the properties listed the house registered by the name of the wife of the suspect was raised by the Public Attorney that she is a business woman and most of the property is owned by her. Using the argument, police refereed to the law that makes every asset or income generated in a marriage to be communal and argued this would only be evidence that the suspect still has enough financial capacity to hire a lawyer.
After hearing both arguments, the bench, waived the right to have a public attorney for Essayas who later hired Zeresenay Mesegena, L/G Knife’s lawyer.
Police asked the court to fine the suspect for deceiving on the affidavit and wasiting the time and resources of the court. The judge stated that the issue should be presented to another court which is entitled to entertain such matter.
Zeresenay argued on behalf of Esayas that he became a suspect just because he is a brother of L/G Kinfe. He also stated that police are coming up with similar statements given by the Attorney General in the Media, but nothing more than that. He also requested that the court prohibit both press and electronic media transmissions which are against the rights of being presumed innocent until proven guilty. The court told the lawyer to bring such claims in a written application.
The court adjourned the hearing of both suspects for the afternoon session December 3, 2018 granting 14 days for police investigation.
Yared Zerihun, former NISS Deputy Director and Commissioner General for FPC
The FHC, 10th Criminal Bench, heard the claim of police on Yared who was in the intelligence service of the country for the past 23 years. It stated on Wednesday that he was engaged in massive Human rights violations not only on his post in the head office but throughout the country. Police also told the court that it has obtained the witness evidences of 60 persons and it asked for 14 days to collect more witness from other parts of the country.
Police told the judges that it suspects Yared of grave corruption in addition to the human rights violation.
Yareed countered police allegations referring to the NISS establishment proclamation which gave the ultimate power to make decision to the Director General. He elaborated that his service as a deputy director general was for one and half years before he was appointed as a Commissionaire General in the Federal Police Commission (FPC) by Prime Minister Abey Ahmed which he quoted to thank him for his service for his contribution of the current change in Ethiopia.
He also mentioned that he was an award winning public servant in his 23 years of service in the intelligence denying any human rights violation. He also argued against the allegations made on him to be a fugitive; rather he explained that he was sitting in the Dukem Town thinking to commit suicide.
“I submited my resignation letter to Getachew Assefa as I had five surgeries in recent years, which was the reason for my resignation as a Police commissioner also,” he told the court. “Abey promised me another post considering my health.”
After obtaining the document of the ordered witness confessions from police, the court on Thursday has adjourned the case to December 5, 2018.
Abdi Mohamed Umar, former President of Somali region et al
The Federal Bureau of Investigation reported to the FHC that it has finalized its investigation including the autopsy tests on the mass grave foundwith 200 bodies. Police presented photo evidence to the court stating that it has taken an autopsy specialist from the St. Paul’s Hospital. It requested 14 days adjournment for final investigations specifically to find the families of the dead.
In its report, police, elaborated to the court that the deceased are Somali origin individuals which resisted the maladministration by the alleged government officials including former president Abdi. It also alleged the four suspects orchestrated an ethnic clash in the region which was a reason for the death of many and for hundreds of millions of birr damage.
Attorneys of the suspects have opposed the claim for the similar reasons mentioned by police repeatedly and the scope of the investigation was also claimed to be extended to the period which the suspects were not on public posts, seven years ago.
The 4th criminal bench of the FHC, Lideta division adjourned the case to December 6, 2018, as requested by police to finalize its reports.
Kol. Gudeta Olana, Ethio-telecom security head
Police argued on the afternoon of Nov 19, 2018, that Col. Gudeta interfiered in the police activities to collect data from the telecom. Also he was accused of accumulating wealth that is more than his legitimate income.
The suspect argued against the claim of police and asked the court to appoint a public attorney as his five thousand birr salary makes him unable to afford to hire a lawyer. He also swore before the court attesting his claims and the court gave order to the office of the Pubic Attorney to appoint him one for the next date of appearance. Police also told the court that it will bring evidence showing his capacity to have a lawyer.
Appearing on the adjourned date police brought a bank statement that 438,222 birr was found in the bank account of his wife. The suspect argued that the cash was there in the Oromiya Bank as his mother in law gave them as a gift. He also said that he is able to show receipts that the cash has now paid for a construction of middle income house.
Irrespective of the police opposition the court granted the suspect his rights to have a public attorney and adjourned the case to 29 November, 2018, to hear the investigation report. It also ordered the suspect to bring his evidence about the payment of the money and for the police to come up with their final report.