Ethiopia: Court denies bail to Bekele Gerba

ESAT News (August 10, 2017)

The 4th criminal bench of the federal high court in Addis Ababa on Thursday denied bail to a prominent Ethiopian opposition leader while the 2nd bench gave additional time to police investigating the cases of individuals accused of corruption.

Bekele Gerba, first secretary general of the Oromo Federalist Congress was initially accused of terrorism but the charges were later reduced to criminal offences. As soon as the charges were reduced, Gerba’s lawyers requested bail for their client. The court in today’s session rejected the request saying Gerba “could incite violence” if released. Gerba, among other charges, was accused of igniting the unrest in the Oromo region last year.

Gerba responded to the court saying he expected no justice from the court and that he was not surprised at all. Gerba said that was not the first time an Ethiopian court made such a decision.

Bekele Gerba a linguist who taught at the Addis Ababa University for nearly three decades is also a vocal opposition figure in Ethiopia. Gerba had previously served 4 years on trumped up charges of terrorism. No sooner had he been released upon serving his four years sentence than he was arrested again in December 2016.

Meanwhile the 2nd bench of the court gave police additional 14 days in the case 16 individuals recently detained on suspicion of high level corruption. The individuals, including the former bosses of the Addis Ababa Roads Authority, were arrested a week ago as part of the crackdown against corruption by the regime. Critics say the campaign has left untouched high level officials who are accused of squandering billions of dollars.