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Gabcast! Gotoota Oromo Haa Yaadannu. #17 - Wallee.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Mockery of Justice

Mockery of Justice

On January 25, 2006 jailed university students and leaders of the Macha and Tulama Association (MTA), the oldest Oromo NGO in Ethiopia, appeared in court after over two years of detention without hearing. The accused were arrested for protesting against the transfer of the regional state capital Oromia from Addis Ababa (Finfinne) to Adama (Nazareth) in August 2002. Following a serious setback and popular unrest of the May 2005 elections, the Ethiopian regime reversed its decision to change the capital of Oromia. However, the accused individuals continue to face prosecution.

The prosecutor produced a long list of witnesses. Their testimonies baffled not only the presiding judge but also those following the proceedings in the court. It was quite a spectacle. The discussion between the judge and two witnesses provided below is indicative of the mockery of the court of justice.
Presiding Judge: Who are you testifying against?
Witness #1: Mr. …. (Reading a name from a piece of paper)Presiding Judge: Could you please identify the accused?
Witness #1: I do not know him
Presiding Judge: Why are you here then? (Judge was smiling)
Witness #1: I was asked by the police to be here
Presiding Judge: Did you see the accused committing the alleged crime?
Witness #1: I did not see a crime being committed. However, we were taken to Sidist Kilo by the police where they demonstrated to us how the crime was committed and it was taped. I also overheard the police talking about it.
Presiding Judge: How could you testify then that you saw the accused committed a crime?
Witness #1: (no answer, looking down to the floor)
Presiding Judge: Do you know where the accused secured the item with which the accused allegedly committed the crime?
Witness #1: I personally do not know, but according to what I was told he got it from Ambo. The MTA gave out 2700 birr and the item was bought with 500 birr.
Presiding Judge: What is the “Maccaa Tulama?”
Witness #1: They say it is an OLF organization
Presiding Judge: Who bought the item?
Witness #1: I do not know the person who bought it, but Mr. (once again reading a name from the same piece of paper) opened it and showed those who used it on how to use it to commit the crime.
Presiding Judge: How did you know all this? More specifically where were you when this was happening?
Witness #1: I was told by the police. I was not at the crime site.
Presiding Judge: How do you testify then about something you did not see or hear happening, just based on a hearsay?
Witness #1: (no answer, looking down to the floor)

Presiding Judge: (the judge took some notes and went on to question the next witness)

Presiding Judge: after some remarks: which cassettes did you see (the police had produced a pile of cassettes)
Witness #1: This one (picking up one from the pile)
Presiding Judge: I see that it is a cassette, what language was it in, if there is a record on it?
Witness #1: Afaan Oromo (the Oromo language)
Presiding Judge: Did you listen to it?
Witness #1: No, your honour
Presiding Judge: How did you know it is in Oromo language then?
Witness #1: They told us it is in Oromo language
Presiding Judge: How do you know what it is about? How did you identify this particular cassette from the rest? Could you show the court some identification marks you used to pick up that particular cassette?
Witness #1: (no answer, looking down to the floor)
Presiding Judge: What did you see?
Witness #2: CDs, computers, written literatures, pictures...
Presiding Judge: What is in the CD and the computers?
Witness #2: I do not know
Presiding Judge: What was the picture you saw about?
Witness #2: They said it is a picture taken during a celebration (a meeting of the MTA)
Presiding Judge: The literature you read, what language was it in? Did you read it?
Witness #2: I did not read it, but I know it is in Afaan Oromo.
Presiding Judge: Who do you think wrote it?
Witness #2: I don’t know.

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