Kebede Tesera, a 75-year-old man convicted of seven criminal charges, goes back to prison after he walked away from a remaining 17-year sentence with a presidential pardon. The pardon was reversed owing to the reason that the board realised that it granted the pardon on the grounds of misleading information.
Kebede was pardoned on July 1, 2017, with 92 prisoners in a letter written and signed by the President, Mulatu Teshome (PhD). However, nine days later, the prosecutors requested clarification to the Pardon Board chaired by Attorney General, Getachew Ambaye, on the reason behind his release.
His pardon was approved by a board which is accountable to the president. The board has members from the Ministry of Labour & Social Affairs, the Ministry of Federal Affairs, the Ministry of Women, Children & Youth Affairs, the Ministry of Defense, the Federal Police Commission, the Federal Prison Administration, and two persons who are considered to be loyal to the Constitution.
“We approved his pardon based on the information provided to us by the prison administration which contained factual errors,” Getachew told Fortune.
While suggesting his pardon, the prison administration wrongly asserted that Kebede had basic health problems and he needed to get priority for a pardon, according to Getachew.
The pardon came without their knowledge, claims a letter written by the prosecutors of the Attorney General. The pardon was granted in a manner that did not follow the legal procedure stated in the proclamation, the letter adds.
Kebede was a menace and a well-known money lender with illegitimate interests, the letter reads, questioning the legitimacy of the pardon, which comes in the middle of an appeal lodged by him at the Federal Supreme Court demanding the reduction of his 25 year sentence. Later, the case was dropped in the same week he was pardoned.
Although anyone has the right to benefit from a pardon, Kebede is not the kind of person who deserves that, according to the letter. The letter asserted that he cannot be considered as an individual who has learned from his mistakes.
Instead, Kebede, for the prosecutors, is a person who negatively affected the financial system of the country and committed several crimes for years.
Before being arrested eight years ago, Kebede was a businessman who owned and managed Meketa Real Estate and engaged in selling construction input materials in Arada District, Addis Abeba.
Kebede, according to the prosecutors, neither accepted his conviction nor made peace with his victims by his act of usury. The prosecutors are also against the fact that Kebede has gained the pardon while his case is pending in a court.
Tafesse Yirga, Kebede’s lawyer, believes that the revocation did not follow the hierarchy of laws provided in the country’s Constitution.
“We have not been officially notified about the cancellation yet,” he said. “But, we heard from rumours that the pardon is revoked based on the directive of the Attorney General.”
“Not only I but also Kebede did not receive any official notice,” Tafesse added.
Although there are 15 days to apply for the reconsideration of the revocation, neither Kebede nor his lawyer have applied, waiting for an official response from the Attorney General.
But Getachew, the Attorney General, states that the board revoked the pardon based on three parameters; finding out the wrong assertion from the prison administration, his pending case at the Supreme Court and he did not serve the one-third of his 25-year sentence.
“The time is ticking on us,” Tafesse remarked.
The process of pardon and revocation is guided by the pardon proclamation as well as directives issued by the Attorney General, according to Adiyamseged Atenafu, a legal expert and attorney at law.
The directive is frequently updated to include which crimes should not be entitled to pardon.
“The latest directive states crimes such as usury should not be pardonable taking the economic and social crisis into consideration,” said Adiyamseged.
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