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Justice delayed is justice denied: Cassation bench in Ethiopia suspends Bekele Gerba’s bail

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Written by OPride Staff

An obscure high instance court in Ethiopia has overruled a well-reasoned Supreme Court decision issued on Monday that granted bail to leading Oromo opposition leader, Bekele Gerba. The delaying tactic was initiated by prison administration over technical reasons.

Quick facts: 

  • Bekele Gerba is the first Secretary General of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC).
  • Bekele was detained in December 2015 for allegedly inciting the popular Oromo protests.
  • Bekele was charged in April 2016 along with 21 defendants that included defendants Dejene Fita Geleta, Secretary General of OFC, and Gurmesa Ayano, another senior member, with various articles of the country’s sweeping Anti-Terrorism Proclamation.
  • A federal high court in July acquitted five of the 22 defendants, and reduced the terrorism charge against Bekele to crime charges under article 257/A of the 2004 Criminal Code.
  • In August, a panel of three judges at the Federal High Court denied Bekele’s request for bail.
  • On Oct. 30, 2017, the  Supreme Court overruled the high court decision and granted Bekele bail on appeal.
  • The court ordered Bekele’s release pursuant the posting of bail bond for 30, 000 birr (about $1, 000.)
  • On Oct. 31, the Qilinto prison administration refused to release Bekele claiming that the file number was incorrect.
  • On Nov. 1, the high instance court, also known as cassaction bench, suspended the bail. Bekele was asked to file a response.
  • Bekele’s next court date will be in 22 days.

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