Today's Ethiopia kangaroo courtroom drama
ER June 15th, 2009
ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — The 32 defendants who are accused by
Ethiopia's tribal junta of plotting to assassinate government
officials appeared at the Lideta district court in Addis Ababa, the
same kangaroo courtroom where Teddy Afro's sham trial was conducted.
General Asaminew Tsige, one of the accused, asked the judge why
himself and four other people were held in solitary confinement in
He said that their human rights are being abused and asked the court
to the measure. The judge said that it wasn’t a court matter but
rather an administration matter.
Also apart from five defendants all the 27 others don’t have a
legal representation. The court today agreed to have them represented
by two lawyers, despite unwillingness from one of the three judges,
and an aggressive opposition from the prosecution.
Once two of the three judge made the decision, 15 minutes were given
for the lawyers to consult their clients.
Strangely enough, two cameras were rolling at the time close enough
to record the voices of the defendants and their lawyers, clearly
violating their privacy.
After less than five minutes of consultation between the lawyers and
their clients, one police officer who was guarding the prisoners
protested to the judges. He told the judges that there was no reason
why the defendants needed to be allocated time to speak to the
Surprised by the outburst from the officer, one of the judges told
him off, telling him that it was the defendants' constitutional right,
then adding: “if you don’t allow this in court, what is it like in
The officer kept quiet, and the crowd cheered and clapped. To which
the pro-government judged told off the crowd for showing its emotions.
That is a kangaroo court in action.
The other interesting part in the hearing this morning is that the
defense lawyer of Berhanu Nega’s cousin Getu Worku asked for a
private doctor to inspect her client. She added that the report would
be kept as evidence.
Reuters managed to speak to several family members who said their
loved ones were tortured. One of them had to be hospitalized after an
injury to his penis due to the torture. Col. Biraa might have
performed her specialty on him. She is a sadistic Woyanne intelligence
officer whom Meles assigns to get any information out of suspected
The judges denied access to a private doctor, saying that the prison
doctor should be enough.
The lawyer for Ato Tsige Habtemariam, the 80-year-old father of
Ginbot 7 Secretary General, tried to get bail for his client. It was
not denied, as the judges admitted that the health of the man and his
age made it a special case, despite strong opposition from the
prosecution. The prosecutor said that once freed Ato Tsige could be in
touch with Ginbot 7 (his son in particular).
Next hearing is Friday, June 26.
Out of the 32 who appeared in court today, 14 are military military
Also today, representatives from the Germany and American embassies
were present at the hearing.