Hundreds of Prisoners Off Jail with Pardon, Charge Drop

Federal High Court wrote a letter for the Federal Prison Administration for the release of these prisoners

The Office of the Attorney General has dropped charges and pardoned over 749 prisoners, who were charged and sentenced for allegedly involved in corruption, terrorism and other crimes.

Attorney General Berhanu Tsegaye made the announcement yesterday, May 26, 2018, at the premises of the Office located on Haile Gebre Selassie Avenue. Out of the total, 576 of them were freed by the Pardon Board, which is chaired by the Attorney General. President Mulatu Teshome (PhD) approved the pardon. While the Office dropped the remaining prisoners’ charges. The Office dropped terrorism and corruption charges against 137 defendants and 31 individual and four company defendants.

“Dropping charges doesn’t mean that the prisoners didn’t commit the crime,” Berhanu told journalists. “Rather, the decisions were made for the benefit of the government and the people.”

Out of the corruption charge drop, the five-year-old equally big corruption case involving Melaku Fenta, former director general of the Ethiopian Revenues & Customs Authority (ERCA) is one. Melaku was charged along with his deputy Gebrewahid Woldegiorgis, Ketema Kebede of K.K Plc, Nega Gebregziabhere of Nega City Mall and Netsa Trading Plc and Gebrewahed’s wife, Haimanot Tesfaye (Col). Gebreselassie Hailemariam, a.k.a Aleqa Gebreselassie, who controls major shares of Capital Hotel & Spa and Getu Gelete of Get-As International were also included in the file. K.K Plc, Netsa Trading, DH Simex Plc, Comet Trading and Get-As International Plc are the companies charged along with the individuals.

All the above listed individuals and the businesses under this file were freed due to the charges dropped.

The other grand corruption crackdown which took hundred of defendants by storm happened recently, in June 2017. The wind took over 100 defendants from the city and federal government offices, business people and intermediaries. The Ministry of Finance & Economic Cooperation (MoFEC) and the Ethiopian Roads Authority (ERA) are among the government institutions whose officials were charged after being arrested.

Alemayehu Gugo, state minister, Wassihun Abate, legal services director and Aklog Demissie were charged from MoFEC for allegedly being involved in corruption acts in the procurement process of Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS). The Office fully dropped their charges. Ziad Woldegebriel, director general of ERA and Gemishu Beyene founder of Gemshu Beyene Construction and Elilly International Hotel saw charges dropped.

Following the request of charge drops from the Office of the Attorney General, the Federal High Court, which has been trying all of the pending corruption cases, wrote a letter for the Federal Prison Administration ordering for the release of these prisoners.

Out of those who were sentenced but received the pardon is, Andargachew Tsige. Andargachew was sentenced to death in absentia nine years ago, convicted of having roles in the opposition political party Ginbot 7, which is identified as a terrorist by the government. He was arrested in Yemen four years ago and extradited to Ethiopia.

Last week, to further widen the political space the government discussed with leaders of an exiled opposition party from Oromia Regional State, Oromo Democratic Front (ODF). Chairman of the Front Lencho Leta and other member had opened talks with government by the mid of last week.


Published on May 26,2018 [ Vol 19 ,No 943]



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