News: Bekele Gerba transferred to a private hospital after court upholds earlier decision

Bekele Gerba, deputy chairman of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC)
Photo: Screengrab/EthioForum

This story is updated by latest development

By Siyanne Mekonnen @siyaanne 

Addis Abeba, February 16/2021 – The medical team providing care for prisoners on hunger strike was able of transfer Bekele Gerba, deputy chairman of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), to a private hospital this morning, defense lawyers told Addis Standard.

The defense team of the prisoners on Jawar Mohammed’s case who have been on hunger strike since January 27, 2021 filed a petition at the Federal High Court, Lideta Branch, Anti Terrorism and Constitutional Issues Bench yesterday demanding the prison administration to allow their client to be treated in a private hospital of their choosing based on an earlier ruling by the court.

All the four members of the opposition OFC, except for Professor Merera Gudina (2nd from left) are currently on hunger strike.

OFC members Jawar Mohammed, Bekele Gerba, Hamza Adane and Dejene Tafa, as well as activist Shemsadin Taha, are all on the hunger strike.

But on Friday February 12, the medical team said it has stopped providing care for the prisoners over its inability to transfer Bekele Gerba to a private care facility after his health condition has deteriorated and the prison administration prevented the medical team to transfer him for further medical care. The defense team has therefore filed the petition on Monday, securing the court’s earlier ruling for the prisoners to be treated at a medical facility of their choices.

In its petition to the court, the defense team cited the deteriorating condition of the prisoners and the prison administration’s refusal to allow the prisoners to be taken to a private hospital. The federal court has finally allowed the prisoners to be taken to Landmark Hospital, which is found in Kirkos sub city. Defense lawyer Tuli Bayisa told Addis Standard that the defense team submitted the letter to the prison administration yesterday, February 15, 2021.

Dr. Ilili Jamal, the lead physician of the medical team, told Addis Standard on February 13 that electrolytes and nutrients in Bekele’s body were depleted, putting his heart at risk. Bekele has underlying conditions of hypertension, Dr. Ilili said. AS

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