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Appellate Court Overturns Release of Former Intelligence Officials

ADDIS ABABA – Former deputy intelligence chief Yared Zerihun and 21 others remain in police custody after an appellate Court overturned a bail judgment last month.

A total of 26 former officials of Ethiopia’s National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) are charged over human rights abuses and corruption charges.

Twenty-two of them are currently in Police custody while the remaining four defendants including Ethiopia’s former spy chief Getachew Assefa tried in absentia.

Late month, a three-judge panel at the Federal High Court granted the 22 defendants charged under a file name of Getachew a bail of 30, 000 birr each with a majority vote.

The bail, however, was overturned by the Federal Supreme Court’s first Court of Appeals on Wednesday, said the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) in a statement today.

The latest ruling came after federal prosecutors submitted a written appeal to the appellant Court.

In their appeal, the Ministry said the federal prosecutors contended against the decision to grant the defendants bail posing nine argument points including the possibility that the defendants may not appear in court and that they are accused of 11 other charges.

The the defendants’ lawyers counter argued saying the charges brought against them could not deny them their bail rights, and that the lower court’s decision was legally valid.

A three-judge panel of the appellate court overturned the federal high court’s decision as per article 26 of Ethiopia’s Criminal Procedure Code and took into account the current situation of the country, with a majority vote, said MoJ’s statement.

The court also ruled that the defendants to remain in custody pending trial.