By Staff Reporter
September 21, 2020 (Ezega.com) -- Jawar Mohammed, a prominent opposition leader, told federal high court that the terrorism charges against him were “poltically motivated” aimed at barring him from next elections.
The Federal Attorney General charged Jawar Mohammed and twenty-three others with multiple criminal offenses including terrorism charges. Eighteen of the defendants, including Jawar Mohammed and Bekele Gerba appeared before court on Monday.
“I feel proud for facing terrorism charges,” he told the court. Jawar had faced similar charges in absentia while working as Oromo activist abroad three years ago.
The ruling party has a fear of losing next elections in the Oromia region if I compete there and that prompted it to file terrorism charges against me, he argued.
Jawar was arrested in July for alleged instigation of violence following the death of prominent singer Hachalu Hundessa, an advocate of the Oromo ethnic group.
The Federal Attorney General accused Jawar of recruiting six members of Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and 200 others from Qimant and Agew ethnic groups and sending them to Egypt for military training.
The Attorney General also charged Jawar of recruiting another 15 youth from Harar and Arsi areas and giving them instructions to assassinate five ethnic Amhara patriarchs and two leaders of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
The Federal Attorney General accused Jawar of recruiting and facilitating training for Oromo youth who participated in July’s violence that left more than 200 people dead and hundred others wounded.
Jawar is also charged with returning the dead body of Hachalu Hundessa by force from Burayu town to Addis Ababa and ordering his bodyguards to shoot a policeman dead.
Jawar said the allegation against Esikinder Nega, another opposition leader with terrorism offences is politically motivated to bar the defendant from taking part and win elections in Addis Ababa.
Eskinder Nega, the leader of the Balderas for Genuine Democracy party, was accused of inciting clashes and seeking to overthrow the government through violent means.
Eskinder and seven others were charged with offences of terrorism and currently are arrested in Kality where he had been detained for seven years for the similar offences. He was freed two years ago amid sweeping reform by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
Jawar requested the court to observe a minute of silence for what he called “Heros of Oromo people” and Hachalu Hundessa ahead of Monday’s court hearing.
The court also charged head of Oromo Media Network (OMN) Dejene Gutema, Ethiopian Cosulate Diplomat in Los Angeles Berhanemeskel Abebe and Tsegaye Regassa who currently lives in Australia with offences of terrorism in abstentia.
The charges against Bekele Gerba and other defendants read that they had instigated inter-ethnic clashes in the Oromia region and attempted to topple the government by force.
More than 200 people had been killed and hundreds others wounded, and private and public property worth billions of birr were destroyed following what the government said was an orchestrated attack in the Oromo region of Ethiopia.
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