Ethiopia court grants top Oromo leader bail, activists want case dropped

East African News

Bekele Gerba, a leading opposition chief in Ethiopia, has been granted bail by a Federal Supreme Court after months of being held in detention.

Gerba who is facing criminal charges is a secretary general of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) whose main leader Merera Gudina remains in detention for similar charges.

READ MORE: Oromo leader Merera Gudina: main target of Ethiopia state of emergency?

The Addis Standard news portal reports that the current order quashed an earlier one by a High Court in August refusing bail to Bekele. The Supreme Court imposed a bail bond of 30,000 birr (equivalent to about $1100).

Oromo activists and human rights watchers, however, insist that the charges which are politically motivated must be dropped.

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Mohammed Ademo ✔@OPride
A rare good news from #Ethiopia: Federal court granted bail to #Oromo opposition leader Bekele Gerba. He never should have been in jail.
5:07 AM – Oct 30, 2017
6 6 Replies 35 35 Retweets 68 68 likes
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Felix Horne @FelixHorne1
Good to hear Bekele Gerba granted bail. Never should’ve been in detention in 1st place. Charges should be dropped http://addisstandard.com/news-ethiopia-supreme-court-overrules-decision-by-high-court-and-grants-bail-to-opposition-politician-bekele-gerba/ …
7:23 AM – Oct 30, 2017
2 2 Replies 34 34 Retweets 47 47 likes
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Bekele along with Dejene Fita Geleta, another OFC top official and 20 others were arrested in late 2015 in connection with the 2015 Oromo protests that resulted in the death of hundreds of protesters.

They were accused of inciting the deadly protests and having links with outlawed political party Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) which has been labeled a terrorist organisation by the government.

Gerba, a university lecturer, whose initial charge of terrorism was later downgraded to criminal charges has had several bail attempts rejected by the courts. At a point, the courts summoned top officials including Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn to appear in court with relation to his case.

His daughter says the family remains skeptical despite the court orders, she told Addis Standard that the ruling was one thing and the release by prison authorities was another thing. His lawyer, however, maintains that he could be released as early as Tuesday.

30 Oct
Addis Standard @addisstandard
AS spoke to #BekeleGerba’s daughter Boontu Bekele: “we know all the charges against him were politically motivated,” http://addisstandard.com/news-ethiopia-supreme-court-overrules-decision-by-high-court-and-grants-bail-to-opposition-politician-bekele-gerba/ …
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Addis Standard @addisstandard
“But we have to wait and see because sometimes the prison administration acts above the law,” Boontu Bekele, daughter of #BekeleGerba
4:39 AM – Oct 30, 2017
Replies 2 2 Retweets 7 7 likes

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