By Mahlet Fasil @MahletFasil
Addis Ababa, 05/2020 – November 23, 2020 was the second trial for the four journalists, including Medhani Ekubamichael, product editor at Addis Standardand three journalists from the Ethiopian Press Agency (EPA): Haftom Gebre Egizabeher and Cegae Hagos, editors of the Ethiopian state-run newspaper EPA, and the reporter of Abraha Hagos in AL-Alem, the Arabic version of the Ethiopian Press Agency (EPA) .
All four journalists are ethnic Tigris and were detained as a result of the ongoing military conflict in the Tigray region, which began on November 4th.
Initially, the police were given an additional eight days to interrogate them and six other persons whose case was presented in the same file but who did not know each other. On December 1, 2020, judges at the Federal Court of First Instance granted bail of 10,000 ETB to the four journalists who had been detained for more than three weeks because police did not produce evidence or indict them. When the family of the detainees paid the bail and asked the federal police to release them, they were all told that the police had appealed the decision. The next day, a new hearing began, this time at the Lindeta High Court.
At the hearing on Thursday, December 2, the police asked the court to revoke the bail given to the detainees, explaining that they need another 14 days to investigate and search for potential accomplices. Lawyer Vubset Kasev, who is representing Medihane, claims that the federal court of first instance ruled to allow the journalists to be released for the pure reason that the police did not complete the investigations present in court at the given time. Wubshet also said his client should not suffer while police await the results of an investigation by government security agencies, prompting police to request additional days in advance.
“The federal court of first instance granted bail and ordered the release of these journalists because they know their address. “Their cases can be monitored without keeping them in custody.” According to him, the police accused Medihane of two criminal charges for “attempts to dismantle the constitution and the constitutional order through violence and rage against the constitution”.
However, after hearing both sides, the judges gave the police another 13 days and postponed the next hearing to December 14.
Medani Ekubamichael was positive for the coronavirus. Another detainee whose case was presented in the same file did not attend yesterday’s court hearing because he was in solitary confinement for symptoms of the virus. Police did not present the association of the ten detainees who were detained at different times and had never met before, but were placed in a single file.
The RSF has condemned such violations of rights and fraud in Ethiopia. Arno Froger, head of the RSF’s Africa bureau, said the leadership was blocking journalists from working, detaining some journalists and exposing them to the Covid-19 epidemic. RSF calls for the release of all journalists detained in Ethiopia. HOW