13 February 2019

Ethiopia: Despite Court Authorized Bail Police Continue Holding Former Coo of Ethio Telecom With Fresh Corruption Allegations

Despite a month-long court authorized bail ordering the release of Esayas Dagnew, former Chief Operation Officer of Ethio Telecom, the police have today presented new corruption allegations at the federal high court and continued holding him in detention.

On January 14, judges at the federal high court 10th criminal bench have granted Esayas, who is also the brother of ex-MeTEC chief Major General Kinfe Dagnew, a bail for 200, 000 birr and a travel ban. However, on January 19 the police have appealed at the Federal Supreme Court disputing the high court's authorization of bail.

Following police's appeal, the federal prosecutors have also fielded additional appeal at the federal supreme court appellate bench. The police and prosecutors' appeal was then accepted by the supreme court appellate bench, which resulted in Esayas' extended detention. The supreme court appellate bench has also granted prosecutors ten days period to finalize alleged corruption charges on the accused and on directed the file to the federal high court.

However, prosecutors have failed to establish the alleged corruption charges within the ten days window upon which the federal high court 10th criminal bench re-authorized the bail. Prosecutors have also failed to establish the charge along with Colonel Kassa Roba, another co-defendant the prosecutors said was facing similar corruption charges with Esayas on the given period of time. Colonel Kassa is since released on bail while prosecutors appealed for additional 15 days to file corruption charges on Esayas, a move his defense team protested and re-appealed at the federal supreme court appellate bench.

Meanwhile, on February 07 the federal high court has overruled prosecutor's request for 15 more days and re-instated Esayas' bail. Similarly judges at the federal supreme court appellate bench also re-instated the bail at a hearing on February 12.

However, today, the police brought Esayas to the federal high court 10 criminal bench on suspicion of new corruption allegations. According to the new allegations, the police said Esayas is accused of entering a deal with an American consulting firm called EDM without proper bid to train Ethio-telecom employees and paying from US$125 - 150 per hour for 12 trainers as well as US$150 per hour for a supervisor. The allegations took place between 2008 and 2013, when Esayas was the director of NGPO, a department whose existence was dismissed by his defense team. The police also accuse Esayas of illegally authorizing 10% payment of the company's retention fund, leading up to the payment of US$104, 495 from the state monopoly before the work of the consulting firm was completed.

Esayas' defense team have also protested the new allegations saying that any activities pertaining to payment within the company was only authorized at the higher level including the board of directors, which consisted of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Debretsion Gebremichael, deputy president of Tigray regional state, among others.

Isayas was first detained on November 13, following major crackdown on former MeTEC military and civilian officials, including his bother Major General Kinfe Dagnew, who is now facing multiple corruption charges. Isayas has already lost an appeal for public defenders when the federal high court 10th criminal bench rescinded its own earlier decision to allow Esayas public defenders. AS

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