Ethiopien - Oppositionspolitikere holdes fortsat fængslet
ETHIOPIA: Opposition leaders denied bail
IRINnews.org, 2. december 2005
Parlamentsvalget i maj har endnu ikke resulteret i et funktionsdygtigt parlament. Ethiopiens enerådige premierminister Meles Zenawi har ændret reglerne for parlamentets procedurer, så oppositionen er sat udenfor indflydelse. Oppositionens ledere har som følge heraf nægtet at deltage i parlamentets arbejde, hvorefter de er blevet fængslet sammen med de få journalister, der tør skrive åbent om forholdene i Ethiopien. Der er endnu ikke foretaget formelle sigtelser mod de fængslede, men det er tydeligt, at sagen er helt og aldeles politisk, og at den tiltrækker gradvis større international opmærksomhed.
ADDIS ABABA, 2 Dec 2005 (IRIN) - Ethiopia's main opposition leaders who were detained in November for allegedly inciting post-election violence were denied bail on Thursday and are expected to be charged in court within 15 days.
The 19 political leaders, who began a hunger strike four days ago to protest their incarceration, looked tired and weak when they appeared at their bail hearing.
During the two-hour session at a specially convened and heavily guarded court, police announced that they had completed their investigations into post-election disturbances during June and November in which at least 88 people were killed in clashes with security forces.
Three journalists and one trade unionist also appeared in court.
The 23 detainees - who include 10 elected members of parliament - were remanded in custody and are likely to be moved to a prison on the outskirts of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.
None of the 21 men and two women has been formally charged, but governmental authorities and Prime Minister Meles Zenawi have indicated they are suspected of treason, a crime punishable by death in Ethiopia.
"The defendants will remain in custody for 15 days until the prosecution files charges to the concerned court," ruled Judge Adil Ahmed at the end of the hearing, which was the leaders’ third court appearance since their arrest a month ago.
Defence lawyers were told to file a separate bail application.
Among those appearing were Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) leader Hailu Shawel; mayor of Addis Ababa Berhanu Nega; human rights activist Mesfin Wolde Mariam; and artist and CUD spokesman Debebe Eshete.
The suspects were first detained on 1 November during political unrest that claimed the lives of at least 46 people. The protests occurred after the main opposition parties accused authorities of rigging the polls during the May elections to return the ruling party, led by the prime minister, to power.
"These people have nothing to do with the killings," maintained defence lawyer Mehrteab Leul. "While the killings were taking place these people were already in jail."
Lawyers at the court told journalists that their clients were refusing solids and drinking only juice or sugary tea. Mesfin leaned heavily on a walking stick during the hearing.
Diplomats from Canada and Sweden also attended the hearing, as did several hundred family and friends of the defendants.
Under Ethiopian law, prosecutors must charge the defendants within 15 days of the police presenting their investigation. Prosecutors also have the right to ask for further evidence in the investigation, for more time or for the case to be dropped.
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