The court continued hearing witnesses for prosecution against Gurmessa Ayano et al (22 persons including Bekelle Gerba and other OFC leaders) charged with Anti-Terrorism proclamation. Today on November 18th 2016 two witnesses are testified against five defendants.
On third day of its hearing the federal High court Lideta 4th bench continued hearing witnesses against the 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th and 19th defendants. The first witness, Sigatu Kedir is testified against the 19th defendant Lemmi Eideto. Mr. Sigatu explained that at 10am on January 30th 2016 he was at the federal police department for his own personal matter and police asked him to be a witness while they were questioning a suspect under custody. The witness told the court he resides in Addis Ababa and he is a civil servant on the Woreda Administration.
After the witness confirmed that he wasn’t acquainted with the defendant before that day he said “On that day I have seen him while he was making a statement with his consent.”
The witness said “First the police showed us a blank paper, then he started to record what the suspect was answering for his questions. At the time the suspect was making a statement freely and he was laughing. I heard when he said to the police he is a member of OLF and he was captured with other persons while they were organizing unrest on Irrecha festival 2009. Then, I have seen him while he was agreeing and putting his signature after his statement read out for him.” He added “the suspect was making a statement in Afaan Oromo but he put his signature in Afaan Oromo”. The witness told the court he put his signature on other papers provided by the police to confirm his testimony.
The next witness, Melkamu Bacha is a resident in Wollega Gidabi Woreda. He told to the court he has been a member of OLF and has been recruiting members and sending them to join OLF. He clarified to the court, he has been arrested with the defendants whom he will be testified against them today, he is released after he agreed to be testified in the court and one of the defendants he will be testified against him is his relative.
The witness testified against the14th defendant Dereje Merga, the 15th defendant Yesuf Alemayehu, the 16th defendant Hikka Teklu and 17th defendant Gemechu Shanko. Yesuf Alemayehu is his nephew.
The witness told the court he has received a call from defendant Dereje Merga in 2007 E.C., He don’t know from where he found his number and on that call he told him that he called for greetings and he never met him in-person. He told to the court he has received another call form the same person in September 2015. He said that the defendant told him if there are any brave, loyal juniors in my area who wants to join OLF; I can give them his phone number.
“At that time my nephew Yesuf Alemayehu who was terminated from Bule Hora University shared with me his plan to join OLF if he gets a chance; I gave his phone number to Dereje. I knew Hikka Teklu was a member of OFC. Because I heard him he was moaning that he will go to the jungle since local Cadres didn’t allow him to live there after election 2005, I told him Yesuf Alemayehu is going to join OLF through Moyale and he call him and go with him. And I gave him Yusuf’s phone number.” He testified.
The witness told the court that he has received a call from Dereje which confirmed to him, Yesuf and Hikka are conversing with him. The witness admitted that he didn’t know Dereje in-person except he watched him when he says “the youth must struggle in every means” on OMN. The witness explained to the court he didn’t know anything about where the defendants traveled except Yesuf told him on phone they have bought a ticket and they are going to Moyale with Hikka.
“I have rented an office for OFC to Gemechu Shanko in 2006 E.C. Then I have seen him less frequently. In September 2015, I gave him the phone number of Yesuf on his own request and Dereje asked me for the phone number of Gemechu and I did the same. On another day Dereje told me on phone that he has conversed with Gemechu.” The witness said when he is testified against Gemechu Shanko. The witness admitted he didn’t know anything except what dereje told him about his conversation with Gemechu. The witness added that Yesuf Alemayehu told him on phone he met with Gemechu.
The witness testified in the court In Afaan Oromo with a support of a translator. He told to the court He is uneducated and he is getting his living from farming. On cross-examination he is asked if he is a layman, how he could transfer and identify the phone number. He answered “My daughter is a 7th grade student and she has assisted me by writing and sending SMS.”
Even though the judges took their chair in the afternoon session they are not succeed to hear more witnesses because the prosecutor told to the court its witnesses have disappeared. The prosecutor asked the court to issue bench warrants which bring the witnesses before the court by the police. The court fixed another hearing to hear the remaining witnesses for prosecution.
Even though their families have brought a lunch box for the defendants who have spent the whole day without eating anything, the warders forbid them to receive it. The warders said “We have brought breads from prison bakery” to justify their act. The defendants refused to eat the bread since the bread served by the prison is dry as a bone and they have seen it while it was covered with dust when they came to court. It is confirmed from their families they didn’t eat anything the whole day.