News Update: Federal Police free Keria Ibrahim as prosecutors seek to bring terrorism, criminal charges against 20 former TPLF leaders

At a court hearing in February, the police claimed they have secured ten witnesses to testify against Keria. Photo: HoPR

By Mahlet Fasil @mahletfasil

Addis Abeba, March 11/2021 – The Federal police has told a federal court this morning that Keria Ibrahim, former speaker of the House of Federation, (HoF) was already released from detention. Keria, a member of TPLF’s Executive Committee, was reported by state affiliated media as having surrendered on December 01/2020.

At a court hearing in February, the police claimed they have secured ten witnesses to testify against Keria on her alleged involvement in crimes associated with TPLF leadership by consulting and giving orders of implementations. Lawyers however argued that Keiria, who was listed first in the former MP & state Minister for Transport, Mulu Gebregziabher’s file, has been detained for 40 days without appearing in a court of law. Keiria told the judges that she was held in private facility for in a location she didn’t know.

Now, the police told judges at the Federal First Instance Court, Arada Division, pre-trial appointment hearing bench that she was already released. Keria herself was a no show at the hearing.

Similarly, Hireyit Mihireteab, former President of Tigray National Regional State’s Supreme Court, and Woldegiorgis Assefa, former advisor of Tigray National Regional State Government were each granted 30,000 birr bail. While Keriya had already been released without bail, Hireyit and Woldegiorgis were bailed on conditions of periodically reporting to the court if the prosecutors required it. Amdemariam Tessema former head of office of Tigray Region’s Ombudsman Bureau, and was the 8th defendant on Abay Woldu’s file, is also granted 30,000 ETB bail.

With regard to 20 other defenders, the police said they have finished their preliminary investigations and handed over the case to the federal prosecutors. The file included party founder Sebhat Nega and TPLF veteran Abay Woldu.

The federal prosecutor is now seeking to establish charges of terrorism on the bases of attempts to dismantle the constitutional order.

The defense team argued that today’s court hearing was set to identify the nature of involvement in the alleged crimes and that the charges should be presented to the court in writing. The prosecutor responded by explaining that the file will be presented during the upcoming court hearing. 

Accordingly, the prosecutors accused the first defendant on the file Sebhat Nega as having contributed to the attack on the Northern Command on November 03 by providing training and consultation. The prosecutor has also accused Sebhat as having advocated for the war and calling the federal government illegitimate.

Tekleweyni Assefa, the seventh defendant on Sebhat Nega’s file, was accused of stealing 50 million ETB from the Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray (EFFORT), according to the prosecutor. Others, including Ambassador Abadi Zemu, Tewodros Hagos (PhD) and Gebremedhin Tewolde were accused of preparing three months worth food stocks for Tigray Defense Forces (TDF), alongside Tekleweyni. 

Kidusan Nega was accused of recruiting the youth and campaigning for a war. Mulu Gebregziabher who was initially in the same file with Keria is now facing criminal charges and is added to the newly established file number 220866. Addisalem Balema also was added to the file, making it the 17th defendant out of the 20 defendant facing terrorism and criminal charges.

Defense lawyers plea for their clients be released on bail was not granted; instead the the court ordered that they can follow their cases while being detained in a Federal Prison facility in Addis Abeba. AS

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