wooden gavel and books on wooden table,on brown background

Court to Hear Case of Ex-Spy Chief in Absentia

ADDIS ABABA – Federal court has finally decided to hear witnesses in the case of former spy chief, Getachew Assefa, and Co in absentia, starting from next month.

The order came after the federal police were unable to deliver court orders to Getachew and three other suspects who were charged in absentia on May 7, 2019, with misuse of power and corruption.

Details of the two charges against Getachew, former head of the National Intelligence and Security Service, and 25 other defendants ran up to 106 pages.

Getachew and other 25 suspects are accused of torture, causing deaths during interrogations and detaining members of opposition groups – at a time when they were labeled terrorist groups and banned under the previous government.

Four of those charged, including Atsbeha Giday, Assefa Belay and Sisay Leul, are still missing; the charge sheet says they are hiding in the Tigray region. The other 22 suspects are in custody after the court dropped their bail appeals in May.

The Federal Police told the Federal Court, in writing last earlier last month, that it could not deliver court order to four suspects who are charged in the same file.

The orders are faxed to the Federal Police branch in the Tigray region but they were not delivered for the branch office does not know the addresses of the suspects.

This has prompted the federal prosecutors’ appeal to the court for the suspects to be notified about the order through a newspaper.

If they failed to appear, the cases should be seen in absentia, according to their appeal.

The court then adjourned to decide on the prosecutor’s request to July 15 and gave the order for the suspects to be notified via a newspaper.

On Tuesday, the court has finally decided to see Getachew and Co case after the suspects failed to appear before the court on Monday after the notification was posted on state-newspaper Addis Zemen, issued last week’s Tuesday, state-run news agency – ENA – reported.

Starting from August 4, the court declares it will start to hear the accounts of witnesses in the case.

Getachew, who has rarely been seen in public and shunned the media, was the country’s head of intelligence for many years but was removed after a reformist Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, took control of political power in April 2018.