Once again the Lideta High Court postponed the defense witness hearing of our co-blogger Zelalem Workagagenhu to December Dec.16, 2015, after the remaining defense witnesses of Zelalem such as journalist Eskidner Nega, Andargachw Tsige, Yeshiwas Assefa and Daniel Shibeshi were not brought to the court by the Kaliti Prison Administration.
The prison failed to bring the defense witnesses for two weeks of trail hearing now although the court ordered their summon.
One of the two individuals charged with Zelalem, Bahiru Degu, today also spoke of the horrible tortures he went through under the hands of interrogators. Bahiru’s defense witnesses were Zelalem Kibret of Zone 9 Bloggers, Zelalem Workagegenhu and Habtamu Ayalew. The first and the second defendants explained to the court that the communication, online security and leadership training was not a “terror training” was the charges stated but an educational training offered by internationally recognised rights and training organisations.
Explaining his ordeal during the investigation, Bahiru said “I was naked and regularly beaten. I was unable to control my bowls and I was forced to drink my own urine.”
Similarity, he said he was asked by the interrogators if Professor Berhanu Nega, Chairman of Ginbot 7, was his relative and what he has got to do with Andargachew Tsgie. Whom he said, has no relation to him.
Due to the severity of the torture, Bahiru said he even attempted to take his own life. He said “it is a miracle that I am alive to be here in the court today out of those horrible torture situations.”
Bahiru today said in the court said he was racially abused by the investigators “is it a crime to be born from the Gurage ethnic group?” he asked and added “As they beat me, they said “Gurages are only good at stealing and cheating not at struggling for rights”, we will cut your blood vessels and kill you. We are the police, the prosecutor, the judges, the intelligence and all are ours; you will be jailed for 20 years.”
He was tortured and forced to admit he was a member of Ginbot 7 Movement.
Bahiru explained to the Court that his confession statements recorded during the investigation were given under duress and were not his own.
It is believed that Zelalem named Eskinder as his defense witnesses hoping that he would defend the charges regrading media training while Andargachew would speak the charges in relation to Ginbot 7.
Zelalem Workagenehu was initially charged in October 2014 with being the local leader of Ginbot 7, conspiring violent revolution with his friends, 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.
Bahiru is accused to applying to the communication, online security and leadership training three years ago, which never took place.