May 2, 2017

Oromo: Falsely Accused Activist Merera Gudina Objects Charges

Photo courtesy of Africa News

 

In a court hearing, renowned academic and Chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), Dr Merera Gudina, rejected allegations of criminal and terrorist acts which had been brought against him by the Ethiopian Federal Court on 23 February 2017. Dr Gudina rightly asserted that his last work trip to Europe and his speech in front of the European Parliament – after which he had been arrested – did not constitute a violation of the state of emergency Addis Ababa had imposed as a reaction to widespread protest against marginalisation and the brutal crackdown on minorities in Ethiopia. Due to Dr Gudina’s objections, the case has been adjourned to Thursday, 4 May 2017.

 

Update: On 20 June 2017, federal prosecutors submitted their objections to Dr Merera Gudina's statement asking that the criminal charges against him be separated from the terrorism charges against the two media organisations OMN and ESAT, that were put in the same file. The court will give its verdict on 7 July 2017.

Update: The prosecutors replied to the preliminary objections raised by Mr Gudina on 25 March 2017 and the court adjourned the release of its verdict on these objections to 2 June 2017. 

 

This article has been published by Africa News:

Dr Merera Gudina, a leading opposition figure in Ethiopia and Chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), has presented preliminary objections to the federal court where he is standing trial on terrorism and other criminal charges.

Gudina was charged along with two others, Jawar Mohammed, a popular Oromo activist and Executive Director of the Oromia Media Network and Berhanu Nega. The charges were made known on February 23, 2017.

The Addis Standard news portal reports that with the current objections raised by Gudina, the case was adjourned until May 4 [2017] in order for prosecutors to respond to the objections.

Dr. Merera according to court papers insisted that his trip to Belgium and the European Parliament address should not be reasons for his continued detention. He added that his trip had nothing to do with trespassing the state of emergency, which is one of the charges prosecutors have pressed.

He also denied claimed that he granted interviews to anti-government media outlets, the basis of which was a spike in protests in the restive regions.

The academic who was arrested upon his return from a European tour in December last year [2016] was charged with terrorism even though he was previously held for flouting state of emergency rules.

He is said to have met with anti-peace elements during his tour even though his most publicized engagement was the delivery of an address at the European Union Parliament in Brussels. He has been denied bail a number of times as prosecutors continue to gather evidence.

The country imposed a curfew in October last year [2016] to quell anti-government protests in the Amhara and Oromia regions.

The Command Post administering the curfew says relative peace has returned to the country. The parliament recently extended the state of emergency after relaxing most of the restrictions that came with the October 2016 decision.

There are issues also surrounding communication access with slow internet in most parts of the country. Some European countries have lifted their travel advice for Ethiopia with the ‘return to peace.’