Ethiopia: News - Lawyers, Prosecutors in Abreha Tekeste's File Argue in Front of Fed. Court Over Witness Hearing Proceedings, Ruling Postponed to a Further Date

Addis Abeba — The case of the defendants on Abreha Tekeste's file was today presented to the Federal first instance court, Arada Bench, 1st appointment bench where the lawyers filed an appeal on the nature of witness hearing against their clients, senior TPLF officials including veteran TPLF members Sebhat Nega, Kidusan Nega, Ambassador Abadi Zemu and others.

The lawyers demanded a constitutional inquiry council to look into the application of some proclamations to the case. One of them is the discrepancy between the span of time when the alleged crimes took place and the revision of the anti terrorsim proclamation within the said period of time requires a constitutional interpretation which the lawyers explained raises constitutional interpretation issues. With regards to witness hearing, the lawyers argued that the constitution does not clearly stipulate the applications of witness protection proclamation to the rights of the accused which are stated under article 20/1 of the constitution.

The prosecutor on its part complained that the lawyers are intentionally dragging the commencement of preliminary witness hearing. The prosecutor also told the court that the demand by the defense team for a constitutional interpretation inquiry should not be raised during a preliminary witness hearing. "They are intentionally obstructing the judiciary processes." the prosecutor accused the lawyers.

In April, following the lawyers' appeal to the supreme court, the prosecutors witness hearing was postponed until the supreme court rules on whether or not the witness hearing takes place behind curtains and in closed sessions. The lawyers argued that the prosecutor failed to detail the conditions of the behind the curtain closed door witness hearing although it cited witness protection proclamations.

The court sessions to decide on the witness hearing dragged on until April 29 where the prosecutors asked the court to have a semi-closed witness hearing for the preliminary testimony of 53 prosecutor witnesses. The federal first instance court, Arada Bench 2nd appointment bench, saw the case of the 42 defendants on Abraham Tekeste's file listening to the arguments of both the defense team and the prosecutor. The prosecutor proposed a witness hearing process where some of it is undertaken in closed sessions, some behind curtains and others without the presence of observers and the media.

The lawyers on their part objected to the procedure proposed by the prosecutors arguing the prosecutor failed to disclose the cases for which it decided to have the aforementioned witness hearing process. The defense team also argued against the prosecutor's excuse for demanding the closed door witness hearing which is the safety of its witnesses. The lawyers reminded the court that TPLF is no longer a threat citing the government's announcements on the matter. AS

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