Ethiopia: Court changes Bekele Gerba’s terrorism charges to criminal offences

Bekele Gerba

ESAT News (July 13, 2017)

The fourth criminal bench of the federal high court in Addis Ababa today acquitted five of the 22 individuals who are members and supporters of an opposition political party imprisoned over terrorism charges, while reducing the terrorism charges against a high profile political prisoners to criminal offences.

The politically motivated charges against Bekele Gerba, first secretary of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) et al has been dragging for long that ,in the processes, exposed the political vendetta employed by the regime against its opponents.

Bekele Gerba and other defendants were not the only ones languishing in Ethiopia’s prisons under trumped up terrorism charges after deadly anti-government protests in the Oromo region. The leader of OFC, Dr. Merera Gudina and thousands of others are in jail facing similar charges of terrorism and other criminal offences.

Gudina was arrested and prosecutors charged him with terrorism offences upon his return from Europe where he testified at the European Parliament against the brutality and oppression Ethiopians are facing under the current regime.

Gerba and the other defendants were thrown to jail at the height of the anti-government protest that rocked the Oromo region last year. They have been accused of masterminding the protests and affiliation to political parties deemed “terrorists” by the regime.

Bekele insists he only seeks peaceful solutions to Ethiopia’s multi-faceted political problems that emanate from the oppressive nature of the minority TPLF regime.

The court was adjourned till August 14, 2017.