Ethiopia: Fed. Court Decides to Resume Witness Hearing Without Absentee Defendants in Jawar Mohamed's File

Addis Abeba — Following the refusal of the four defendants in Jawar Mohammed's file; Jawar Mohammed, Bekele Gerba, Hamza Adane and Dejene Tafa to appear in court for the third time, the Federal High Court Lideta Branch, First Constitutional and Anti-Terrorism Bench has decided to resume hearing to decide on the conduct of prosecutor's witness hearing in theor absence.

At the last hearing, the court ordered the prison administration to bring the four defendants to today's hearing. The defendants, in a letter sent through their lawyers cited the summary execution of detainees, maltreatment of prisoners in detention and extrajudicial killings in different parts of the country and stated that they do not want to attend the hearing until Justice is administered. The hearing that was set to decide on the conduct of witness hearing against the defendants was scheduled to take place in May, the four defendants haven't appeared at subsequent hearings since May 26,2021. The court rejected the defendants' complaints by explaining that such malpractices in the justice system were not apparent during this hearing.

The court cited Article 20 of the Ethiopian Constitution and explained that the four defendants who declined to appear at the hearing will be considered as though they willingly declined their rights to defend themselves and subsequently decided to carry out the hearing in their absence.

The court rejected the prosecutor's demand to have the defendants be forced to attend the hearing and gave an alternative appointment to August 6, 2021. AS

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