Oct. 30 (ESAT News) The fourth criminal bench of the Federal High Court heard charges brought against 29 Muslim leaders and activists that are accused of committing acts of terrorism. Prosecutors, Berhanu Wondimagegn, Zeresenay Misganaw and Tewodros Bahiru, filed the charges on behalf of the government yesterday morning against the 29 individuals alleging that they used religion as a cover to advance their terrorist ploys.
The wife of the civil service minister Junedian Sado was also charged with funneling money from the Embassy of Saudi Arabia to Islamic terror groups.
Habiba Mohammed is one of 29 Muslim activists and faith leaders accused of conspiracy to commit unspecified acts of terrorism. According to prosecutors, Ms. Habiba also tried to defraud 1.5 million Ethiopian Birr from the Islamic Supreme Council of Ethiopia.
Habiba also received more than 50,000 birr from the Saudi Arabian Embassy to fund terrorist activities amongst Ethiopia’s Muslims, it was alleged.
Ethiopia’s broad anti-terrorism law has come under fire by international advocacy groups as a poorly drafted repressive instrument that contradicts the constitution as well as universally recognized fundamental rights.
The accused were asked to enter pleas, but the procedure was criticized by defense lawyers who contested that the charges were filed in contravention of court procedures as the case was being heard at the Arada Woreda First Instance Court. The defense also requested the court to grand bail rights to the accused, but the court rejected the request on the ground that anyone charged with terrorism offenses do not enjoy bail rights.
A couple of individuals who allegedly recorded the accused individuals while entering the court premises under heavy security were reportedly arrested.