Bahiru and Zelalem (yellow suit) leaving the courthouse
Ethiopia’s Federal High Court was today expected to hear the last defense witness for De Birhan Blog’s co-blogger Zelalem Workagegnehu. Andargahcew Tsige, the abudcted Secretary General of Ginbot 7 Movement now detained in Ethiopia, was called by Zelalem as his last defense since his charge states that Zelalem did chat with Andrgachew by using different methods of communication.
However, the court officials today said the panel of the judges was no full due to missing judges thus postponed the hearing to Friday 4 March, 2016.
Andargachew was not seen in the premises today.
The judges had ordered Ethiopian Prison Administration to summon Andargachew twice but to no avail.
Most of Zelalem’s defense witnesses have already been heard except Andargachew Tsige, the Secretary General of Ginbot 7 Movement, who was abducted from Sanaa Airport, Yemen by Ethiopian securities in June 2014. Zelalem named Andargachew to testify because in the charge files, he is also accused of having a contact with him before he was arrested. Zelalem today said, although the court ordered the prison administrations to summon Andargachew Tsige, the government has been unwilling to do so.
Zelalem had said during the last hearing “What I have understood now is that for the government which has accused me, it is easier to acquit me rather than present Andargachew Tsige as a defense witness.”
Zelalem did say that it is therefore proper that Andargachew was summoned as a witness given that he had been accused of interacting with Andargachew via different methods of communication.
Zalelam did say, otherwise, the court should remove the tenets of the charge in relation to Andargachew and pass decisions on the rest of the points.
Zelalem Workagenehu, co-blogger of De Birhan Blog, was initially charged in October 2014 with being the local leader of Ginbot 7 opposition Movement, conspiring violent revolution with his friends (such as this writer), writing and sending reports that appeared on Diaspora based websites such as this article he wrote in 2011 using his pen name, receiving money from abroad to recruit members for Ginbot 7, and facilitating asocial media and communication related training course with his friends.
However, the court dropped most of the charges and now he is defending two charges, which are receiving money (10, 000 birr) from abroad to recruit members for the opposition Ginbot 7 and facilitating the social media training.
In a related development an online campign for the release of Zelalem Workagenehu as well as prisoners of conscience and journalists detained in Ethiopia is well underway on all social media outlets.
The campaign continues tomorrow on social and mainstream media outlets.