Judges Re-up 14-Day Custody of Kinfe for Third Time

Police have brought an additional six allegations against Kinfe Dagnew (Maj. Gen), former head of Metals & Engineering Corporation (MetEC) and a suspect in crimes of corruption, making the sum total of allegations against him 18.

The 10th Criminal Bench of Lideta Division allowed the investigators a third 14-day custody right to hold Kinfe and continue their probe during the latest session held on December 19, 2018. Last Monday, police brought a 19-page preliminary claim against Kinfe.

Kinfe, who was arrested on November 14, 2018, faces new allegations that he allegedly decided and approved various procurements, which did not follow the proper bidding processes.

The procurement of 200 pedestrian detection radars for 18.8 million dollars from two Chinese companies and the electromechanical work of the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam are among the new allegations presented to the court. Police claim that MetEC received a payment of 16.79 billion Br while only completing 23pc of the electromechanical work.

Payments that MetEC received without performance, construction of a smart car parking garage in Addis Abeba and sponsorship awards given by the Corporation to non-staff members are additional accusations leveled against Kinfe last Monday. The improper procurement of construction machinery and engines for Bishoftu Auto-motive Industry is another claim police brought, accusing Kinfe of illegally approving the procurement.

The 12 allegations presented against Knife in the previous session include procurements of machinery for a naphtha purifying subsidiary from a German company; 20 double-cab pickup trucks from Equatorial Business Group for 22 million Br; 38 used aircraft; a plastic factory, a hotel; and various residential units. The additional accusations filed include another procurement of one billion dollars authorized by Kinfe.

To finalise the investigation and press charges, police requested their third 14-day extension to keep Kinfe in custody while they collect further documentary evidence, gather testimony from witnesses, conduct forensic studies and await an audit report that is being prepared on the company.

Kinfe, represented by local attorneys Zeresenay Misgina and Habtom Tesfaye, argued that during the last session police were granted additional time to conduct investigations on 12 counts listed in the preliminary claim. However, the attorneys argued that investigators have now brought additional allegations without first obtaining a ruling from the Bench.

The two defence lawyers appealed to the judges to order investigators to stop filing new allegations in each court session. Zeresenay and Habtom also appealed for the judges to merge Kinfe’s case with the other 26 suspected MetEC officials, since the allegations against the officials are identical to their client.

After hearing the arguments of the two sides, the three judges, Christian Byalegne, Lema Tuji and Genanaw Assefa, granted police the additional days they requested to keep the suspect in custody and adjourned to December 31, 2018.

A day earlier, the same judges passed a ruling over the case of Essayas Dagnew, Kinfe’s brother and a former official of Ethio telecom. Essayas is suspected of amending project contracts for mobile and CDMA network sites in Somali Regional State and Bale Zone in favour of MetEC. He is also suspected of awarding MetEC a tower construction project valued at 321.7 million Br.

The judges granted police an additional 10 days for the investigation of Essayas. The judges passed the ruling with the dissenting opinion of one of the judges, Genenew Assefa, who argued that Police had sufficient time to finalise the investigation of Essayas.






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