On June 23/2016, defendants including journalists Khalid Mohamed and Darsema Sori demanded the investigation of the identity of the prosecutor’s witnesses at the 14th criminal bench of the Lideta Federal High Court. During the trial session of the case of 20 defendants (including the journalists), the defendants explained that the witnesses presented by the prosecutor are the same individuals that were threatening and harassing them with guns while they were giving their words to the police during investigation in Mea’kelawi detention center.
During the morning trial session of the day, the prosecutor requested the trial to be adjourned to the afternoon claiming the 3 witnesses, of the remaining 12 listed in the charge file, were not present. The defendants’ lawyers objected this claiming the court’s previous decision that the remaining witnesses shall be detained and presented before court. Accordingly, the lawyers demanded for a verdict based on the testimonies heard so far. Finally, the judges adjourned the session for afternoon.
During the afternoon session, the first witness identified the defendants Kedir Mohamed, Nazid Temam and Fuad Abdulqadir and testified that he has seen them while they were giving their confession to the police. The witness explained that the police requested him to be a witness while the 3 defendants were giving their words on 3 different days while he went to follow up his own other matter at the investigation center. The witness testified that he has seen the defendants willingly giving their words to the police by mentioning world like ‘the government shouldn’t intervene in the affairs of religion’ and ‘our Muslim brothers should be freed/released.’
The second witness said that he was present while the defendants gave their words because the police, by phone call, requested him to be a witness. He told the court that he couldnt identify the defendants Yasin Mohamed, Tofik Musbiza and Hayat. He said that the investigator police brought a questioner form/paper with questions ‘did you take part in the Anwar Mosque demonstration/protest?’ ‘Did you distribute papers/pamphlets that says Dimstachin Yisema?’ and made the defendants put their signature on it. The witness also told to the court that he has witnessed the defendant Hayat telling to the police that she has been sending protest/demonstration papers/pamphlets to Jima and Worabe cities by translating them to Silite language from Amharic and also that she has been buying clothes and distributing them to people through her brother.
The third witness explained that she was summoned from her home by the Kebele administrator to be a witness while police was searching the defendant Ebrahim Kamils’ residence, which is 10 minutes away from her’s. During the search, the witness said, a paper that says Dimtsachin Yisema, a note book, pamphlets, a paper that shows a structure to form a group, and CDs and a mobile phone whose contents she didn’t know, were found.
The court finally ordered that the remaining witnesses, if they are not to appear before court willingly, the police shall detain and bring them on the next trial day which is set to be on July 14, 2016.