Imprisoned opposition leaders harassed, beaten


Bekele Gerba

ESAT News (November 11, 2016)

Prominent Oromo political leaders, Bekele Gerba and et al, who appeared before the Federal High Court on Friday said they were beaten by prison officers for refusing to appear at the sham trial.

Gerba, first secretary general of the Oromo Federalist Congress and twenty-one other defendants were rounded up and jailed in December 2015 at the start of the protest in the Oromo region on bogus terrorism charges and accused of inciting the protest. The tyrannical regime routinely invokes its anti terrorism proclamation to silence dissent and jail journalists.

Prison officers did not bring five of the defendants at the 19th bench of the federal high court at Friday’s hearing. The prosecutor said they were not able to bring four of the defendants to the court as they were held in prisons in Ziway and Shewa Robit, far from the capital. Both the prosecutor and prison administrators say they don’t know the whereabouts of defendant Chimsa Abdisa.  

There are fears about the safety of the five defendants, Gelana Negera, Gemechu Shanko, Dereje Merga, Firomsa Abdisa and Chimsa Abdisa, who were not brought to the court on Friday.

The court was adjourned until Tuesday as the prosecutor failed to bring witnesses at Friday’s hearing.