Mahlet Fasil and Yared Tsegaye
Addis Ababa, November 16, 2018 – A arrest to date by more than 60 officials, mostly from Ethiopia's intelligence and military devices, which began with the arrest of 40 Friday, November 9, has led to shocking revelations by Attorney General Berhanu Tsegaye about cruel human rights violations of the Ethiopians in the hands of security, police and intelligence units and a network of corruption within Metals and Engineering Corporation (MetEC), a state-owned business monopoly governed by army officials.
Attorney General (AG) said investigations in three separate cases were conducted by the police in the last five months. These are: Investigation of the bombing of the pro-prime minister Abiy Ahmed rally in Addis Ababa on June 23, 2018; Investigations of brutal human rights violations by pre-Abiy Ahmed's EPRDF led the security, intelligence and police units. as well as investigations of massive corruption networks within MeTEC.
The following summary puts in perspective all three major investigations currently being conducted by the Advocate General.
June 23 bombing
Of the three, the investigation of the bombing in Addis Ababa, which killed two and injured over 50, was investigated. The police first examined a total of 18 people in two separate bills. The first 10 people were investigated as suspected of negligence in connection with security rounds at the rally. while the other eight were suspected of direct involvement in the bombing. Among the ten suspected of neglect include the former commissioner of Addis Abebaise Girma Cashier and ten other police officers with various joints, many of whom, including the deputy commissioner, were granted the right to the deposit at the Federal Court of First Instance. Among the eight suspects Direct involvement, one is Tesfaye Urgi, former anti-terrorism division chief at Ethiopia's National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), who was detained at a later date. But in the last week of September, the police charged five out of eight, including Birhanu Jafar, Tilahun Getachew, Getu Girma, Bahiru Tolosa and Dessalegn Tesfaye, with terrorism. Despite the police's allegations that they have found a bomb similar to that detonated at the rally in Tesfaye Urgi, the prosecutors have so far failed to appeal to him, giving the judges a definitive ultimatum to do it for today, November 16th. Meanwhile, the judges have dismissed the preliminary objections submitted by the defense team for the five suspects who have then submitted an unfair reason. And Tesfaye Urgi? The police have brought him to the court for what was expected to be a prosecution of formal charges of prosecutors. But no charges were filed, instead, the police said they now have a new file on him, whose nature is not yet known. The court interrupted another hearing for Monday, 19 November.
In a new twist, AG said Monday that evidence shows direct involvement of NISS's senior management. He prevented from providing further details about allegations, but said the attack was a coordinated act that was primarily aimed at creating an impression that, as it was accused of the ethnic Oromo background, Prime Minister Abis made his constituency of ethnic Oromos I approves him as the country's prime minister.
However, many consider that his statement is a finger on Getachew Assefa, formerly serving as chief executive of NISS, who was dismissed by PM Abiy Ahmed and replaced as head of the elusive police in June 2018. Getachew Assefa has since been living in Mekelle, the capital of the Tigray regional state. In the last week of September, Getachew was elected as one of the nine members of TPLF, a party governing the Tigray region.
Brutal crimes against human rights
In a press release, Advocate Board Berhanu Tsegaye said the arrests were made after five months of investigation, which, with emphasis on the complexity of the case, had expanded beyond the accused's ethnicity, political and religious belongings.
Unlike his reserved information about the bombing associations, AG went a long way to describing the investigations into the violent human rights violations. According to him, the rights violate each other, all of which are associated with cruel torture practices by state security and intelligence devices on the Ethiopians who were imprisoned especially after being charged with terrorist offenses and members of opposition political parties.
To limit the charges in torture practice, the Attorney General pointed out that its investigations have shown that the practice was not only limited to prison cells but also seven illegal private catchments located in the capital Addis Ababa alone.
AG's allegations are known as being told for Ethiopians who were out in the open, especially after the mass release in February of this year thousands of prisoners of conscience. What came as a chilling experience for many was, however, to hear AG acknowledge publicly what all Ethiopians feel inside. He continued to describe torture methods, including but not limited to removing nails, inserting pencil on suspected noses, leaving suspicious overnight bound to trees and naked electric shocks, hanging water bottles on male genitals, throbbing women and sodomizing male suspects, using pliers to pull male genitals and water boarding.
The main suspects of these chilling statements are most drawn from the country's top spy agency, the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS – for federal and regional states) and prison police. Top in this list is Yared Zerihun, former deputy director of NISS and commissioner of federal police commission, the latter a stint lasting from 19th April to 06/06/2018. Yared was appointed to lead the federal police by PM Abiy Ahmed during his first cabinet strengthening in April but resigned in June with reference to ill health. Despite joining the list, Yared was arrested on Thursday, November 15, what the police said was a hotel room in Dukem, 30 km south of Addis Ababa, as he tried to fly.
The number of suspects in this category is still 37. But AG suggested that this number could grow when they were on the go and those who fled from the country were arrested.
The core of the investigations on massive corruption is the state owned by Metals & Engineering Corporation (MetEC), established for the first time in 2010, and took major action in the construction of Ethiopia's multi-billion dollar multi-billion dollar project, including the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, ten sugar factories and one fertilizer plant. AG accuses MeTEC officials of the fact that only between 2012 and 2018 they have made an international procurement of 37 billion bearings (about $ 2 billion) without proper tender where relatives from MeTEC officials and those in their networks acted as the major actors while the projects took position to unrivaled delays.
Most of this scandal is the purchase of MeTEC by two outdated vessels from the Ethiopian shipping lines (now renamed Ethiopia Shipping & Logistics Services Enterprise) and dozens of old aircraft used for private purposes among the former officials, including its Director General, Kinfe Dagnew. One of these aircraft has now disappeared, with its residence suspected of being in Egypt.
MeTEC Measures and Measures Management of MeTEC was a target for a series of reports of the independent Wazema Radio, an Amharic podcast set up by condemned Ethiopian journalists during the weeks before AG's degradation. A simultaneous release of two-hour documentary by large state-owned broadcasting media, including the national broadcaster ETV, which reports some of the major injuries within MeTEC, has left the Ethiopians in shock, despite the fact that they raised ethical questions about the claim for virginity until they were found guilty.
The 63 suspects arrested during the weekend on November 9th have all appeared at the 10th Criminal Court of the Federal Supreme Court in the capital of Addis Ababa for a hearing on Monday, November 12, which lasted until 9am local time. The court has denied all suspected rights to the bail and has granted the police 14 days to refrain and investigate all.
Monday's attempts were followed by dramatic arrests of senior employees from MeTEC and NISS, Director General Kinfe Dagnew and Yared Zerihun on 13 and 15 November respectively. The negotiation request for M.G. Kinfe Dagnew and six others, including his brother Esayas Dagnew, Chief Operation Officer of the State Monopoly Ethio Telecom until June 2018, when he was fired, Fistum Yeshitila, an earlier entertainment news anchor on the national transmitter ETV took place within two days at the federal court 10th criminal bench. Judges have denied M.G Kinfa's request for public defenders after the police said they have evidence of a new penalties and revocation of the 100 000 birr total amount. The police also argued that Kinfe has a bank depreciation on 5 335 birr, as well as a house and private car, and therefore he should not be entitled to public defenders, an argument that the defendant denied everyone together. "I have nothing, no house no car, no property, all I have is my own," said M.G Kinfe. However, the court has allowed his brother Isayas Dagnew to become public defender and cancel the next negotiation hearing until November 19, 2018.
Likewise, the police accused Yared Zerihun of gross human rights abuses and corruption at a court hearing court in the 10th Criminal Court today. Yared is also accused of collaborating with the former head of NISS, Getachew Assefa, now treated as volatile after a statement was issued for his arrest.
The police have accused Yared of ordering the prison police to torture prisoners as getting them attacked by ants, pulling their genitals with forceps, ordering hanging up and down by prisoners and forcing them to travel to Eritrea and have weapons to incriminate themselves. The court interrupted a hearing on November 20, when Yared is expected to bring his defense consultant.
Yared, who was imprisoned yesterday, told the court that he has been exposed to someone outside the prison and held alone in a room. The police denied both and requested 14 days to refrain and investigate Yared. The court will rule the police's request on 20 November.
The arrests have continued and the latest high-profile official arrested today was Colonel Assefa Yohannes, Head of the Armed Forces at MeTEC. The police accused chief Assefa of terminating a contract of more than 5 USD. 7 million between Tana Beles In Sugar Factory and a nameless Chinese company. He is also accused of helping another nameless company, who signed a $ 6.4 million contract with MeTEC, to disappear with more than $ 1.9 million of project money. Oberst Assfas negotiating hearing is postponed until Monday 19 November. The Colonel told the court that he also can not afford private defense lawyers and therefore want public defenders. The court is expected to decide if his request comes Monday. AS