Alleged Elaborate Heist Busted

Wrong provisions are cited, defendants

Seven defendants suspected of stealing steel bars from the Addis Ababa Saving Houses Development Enterprise were charged and brought before the 15th Criminal Bench of the Federal High Court. The defendants are charged with corruption, disguising illegally obtained properties as legal ones, and forgery.

The stolen steel bars which were meant for construction purposes of 40/60 condominium houses are worth 6.4 million Br.

The theft was committed in Nifas Silk Lafto sub-city, between 1:00 am and 4:00 am of November 19, 2016, according to the prosecution.

The suspects transported the steel bars from where they were stored to Mojo construction site in an area known as Furi, on the outskirts of Addis Ababa.

Tesfalegn Bekele, inputs collection and distribution officer at the enterprise, is suspected of orchestrating the theft.

The suspects produced forged documents to help them move the steel bars from storage, authorities said.

With Tesfalegn’s help, two other suspects, Darsema Joa and Sintayehu Tesfaye, merchants by profession, coordinated the transportation of the materials to the Mojo construction site. They moved 55 bundles of steel bars, six inches in diameter and 73 bundles of steel bars eight inches in diameter using 15 trucks.

Abebe Tesfaye, a driver by profession, is charged with assisting the suspects in transporting the stolen goods.

The prosecution charged Leul Fekadu, the owner of a printing business, with the production of the forged documents that helped the suspects to deceive security personnel and move the steel bars.

After the steel bars were taken out of the original storage area, they were stored in a warehouse owned by Darsema at Furi. The stolen construction materials were then transported by eleven trucks from Furi to a storehouse located in Sebeta.

Ashenafi Reta, a merchant, is also charged with purchasing and hiding the true source of the steel bars by keeping them at a storehouse located in Adama. Another trader, Eyosyas Alemu, who bought another bulk of steel bars and kept them at his store in Addis Ketema sub-city is charged with the same offence.

The defence, however, challenged the charges, arguing that the offences that they have allegedly committed and the provisions of the criminal law that the prosecutor cited are unrelated.

The public prosecutor chose provisions that entail heavier penalties, but that don’t apply to the case, the defence argued.

The court adjourned the trial until January 4, 2016 to decide whether the provisions of that prosecutor cited have to be changed and whether the charge should be amended. The bench is also expected to give a decision regarding bail for the defendants.


Published on Dec 27,2016 [ Vol 17 ,No 869]



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