The Federal High Court in Ethiopia on Monday charged 22 individuals for terror related offences. According to the state affiliated FANA Broadcasting Corporate, the charges were in respect of ‘‘causing damage by inciting violence in schools.’‘
‘‘The 22 individuals, including 1st defendant Dereje Alemu Desta, 2nd defendant Teshome Diribsa and 3rd defendant Behiru Lucho, were charged for damaging government and public properties as well as plotting to carry out terror acts,’‘ FBC said.
The report further states that the accused persons were receiving instructions from leaders of the Oromo Liberation Front based in Kenya and Norway.
The OLF is an opposition group which has been labeled as a terrorist organization by the Ethiopian government. They have been accused of been behind protests that have hit two main regions – Oromia and Amhara, since last year.
The first defendant is said to have visited next door Kenya in 2013 where he was initiated into a terrorist organization. He reportedly became a member of a the organization and received political training there before returning last year.
He is also accused of using fake identification cards as part of his work and also recruiting others to carry out terror plots. One Dr Degefa Abdisa, a leader of the Norway based terror organization is also said to have given the defendants some training.
A number of the defendants were also charged for inciting violence at a primary school on last year. The hearing of the charges was adjourned till later this month. (November 25, 2016.)
Ethiopia is currently under a Command Post administering a 6 month state of emergency imposed in early October. The authorities recently released a list of over 11,000 people arrested under the state of emergency.
They also lifted a restriction on the movement of diplomats citing the return to peace. The state of emergency had raised concerns about the use of repression to silent opposition members.
The government recently reshuffled the cabinet as part of plans to make governance all inclusive. Human rights groups continue to pile pressure on the government accusing it of using the security mechanisms to repress dissenting voices.
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