22 February 2014

Ethiopia: Court Rejects FEACC Request for Three Month Response Time

The Lideta Federal High Court 15th criminal bench om Monday heard the response from Melaku Fenta, former director general of the Ethiopian Revenues and Customs Authority (ERCA), and his erstwhile deputy Gebrewahid Welde along with several others, to the corruption charges brought against them by the Federal Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission.

After accepting the objections of the suspects, the court told the public prosecutors to get their response ready by March 4. This was opposed by the prosecutors, who pleaded that this would not give them enough time as there are 66 suspects all with three different charges leveled against them. They asked the court to grant them a three month preparation period to respond to the objections regarding the charges.

This request shocked the court, bringing different reactions from the suspects and defense lawyers alike.

The defense lawyers argued that their clients have the right to a fast proceeding, and that the prosecution had already asked for a great deal of time while preparing the bail charges. After hearing both sides the presiding judges, Berihu Tewelde Berhan, Abahoy Huade and Tadesse Atnafu, said that as the prosecution is a large government office it should have the manpower to deal with the requests quickly, saying that the suspects have a constitutional right to a fast proceeding. The court rejected the three month extension, adjourning the case until March 18.

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