The Reporter (Addis Ababa)

16 August 2014

Ethiopia: Acquitted Corruption Suspect Secures Key Position in City Administration

The former head of land administration of the Addis Ababa City Administration, Kassim Fitte, who was accused of corruption and abuse of power but was later acquitted of all charges by the Federal High Court has been given a new senior position on Mayor Diriba Kuma's team, The Reporter learnt.

Along with Kassim, who is now appointed to the post of senior advisor to the mayor in infrastructure affairs, other former officials and also suspects in the same charges: Bekele Gebre and Gebreyesus Kidane were also granted a post in the city administration in tune of head of Urban Land Development and Management Office and Land Granting Process Officer.

Three of the former officials were charged by the Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission in connection with 500 square meters of land in Woreda 17 and 19, the charges investigators had instituted explained. The court heard, before reaching the verdict, that the suspects were accused of granting a title deed to the plot of land in question, which was in fact registered under the ownership of Girma Afework (Eng.), to a third party: Yohannes Derseh.

The former head of Land Administration and Development Office of the Addis Ababa City Administration, Kassim, has been on trial for a year until the Federal High Court, Second Criminal Bench released him scot-free a few months ago.

Kassim was under custody after his immunity was revoked last year by the House of Peoples' Representatives, after being accused of involvement in corruption activities.

Kassim was reportedly said to have fled abroad two days after his immunity was revoked. However, police detained him immediately after he came back to Addis Ababa.

Later, the Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission's investigators brought him before the Federal High Court.

It is also to be recalled that the investigators had claimed that the suspects had allegedly granted the land without a legal basis while he knew that the owner of the land had all the legal documents and the title deed, recognized by the Addis Ababa City Administration and by the city's First Instance Court.

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