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MP and Councilmen Facing Terrorism Charges: Abiy Ahmed’s Courtroom Drama Unfolds

The Habesha

Christian Tadele, a Member of Parliament, Yohannes Buyalew, a member of the Amhara Regional Council, Kassa Teshager, a member of the Addis Abeba City Council, and other defendants accused of terrorism appeared in a closed hearing at the Federal High Court’s Lideta branch on Friday.  Out of the 52 individuals charged with terrorism, 14 were brought before the Federal High Court in Lideta yesterday, despite their original court date being set for April 5th, as reported by family members who spoke to Addis Standard.

A family member of the defendant, Christian Tadele, mentioned that neither Christian nor his legal team had any knowledge of the rescheduled hearing. According to the relative, when they brought his meal at noon, there was no awareness of any court appearance scheduled for that day. However, they later learned that Christian and his lawyers were taken to court around 2:00 PM after they had left.

The defendant’s relative claimed that the defendants had not been given the formal charges or the opportunity to consult their legal counsel before the proceedings. Christian Tadele, who had been a member of Parliament since 2021, had his immunity revoked on March 14, 2024, seven months after being arrested on August 4, 2023. Additionally, another family member of defendant Yohannes Buayalew stated that they were not allowed to enter the courtroom, and the hearing took place in a closed session.

The Ministry of Justice’s Directorate General of Organized and Transboundary Crime Affairs has charged Christian Tadele, Yohannes Buyalew, and 50 others with terrorism offenses, as reported by state media outlets on Thursday. The charges allege that the defendants sought to achieve their political objectives through the use of force. The reports further mention that the defendants had been gathering since 2022 with the intention of forming the Amhara Fano Unity Council.

According to the reports, the defendants claimed that the Amhara nation, along with other Ethiopian nationalities and peoples, holds ownership of the country. However, they believed that the country had been taken away from the Amhara people, with their lands unlawfully seized, and that the country was no longer governed solely by Amhara traditions and principles. The defendants are accused of attempting to regain what they considered as “Amhara lands” through military actions, with the goal of establishing exclusive rule by Amhara ideals in Ethiopia.

According to the reports, the defendants are accused of being the main culprits involved in various activities such as organizing, procuring arms, commanding, and coordinating logistics for a terrorist group. Additionally, they are said to have acted as propagandists for the group, carrying out attacks on defense and security forces, as well as innocent citizens, with the intention of violently overthrowing the government. The reports also highlight that these alleged attacks have resulted in over 1,100 deaths among security personnel and civilians, along with more than 600 serious and minor injuries.

According to Lawyer Solomon Gezahegn, who is representing Christian, Yohannes, and others, his clients did attend the court hearing. Solomon clarified that the lawyers filed an appeal, arguing that they were unable to properly defend their clients due to the lack of prior meetings. He also mentioned that the court granted their request to reschedule the session for April 5. Furthermore, the public prosecutor requested the defendants to be transferred from the overcrowded Federal Police Commission Crime Investigation Bureau prison facilities during the proceedings.

Lawyer Solomon expressed opposition to the proposed transfer request, citing its untimeliness. The court, in turn, rejected the prosecution’s plea to relocate the defendants.  Solomon’s clients raised concerns about human rights violations, with Yohannes Buayalew highlighting issues such as prolonged detention in poor conditions. Currently, they are being held in overcrowded cells in Addis Ababa.  Additionally, Buayalew mentioned that the defendants had limited contact with their families and were denied access to legal counsel or religious advisors. Following these complaints, the judge acknowledged the grievances and ordered necessary actions to address the situation.


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