The 42 defendants named in Abreha Tekeste’s case appeared before the Arada Bench of the Federal First Instance Court. Senior TPLF officials, including Sebhat Nega, Kidusan Nega, Ambassador Abadi Zemu, and others, were arraigned in court today to hear the court’s decision on requests made at previous hearings. The court denied the appeals to have the case heard in a Tigray court and to have the judge presiding over it replaced. The court did, however, grant one of the demands, which was to adjust the location so that all of the attendees could stay in safer accommodations.
The defendants’ appeal to be tried in a Tigray court was denied due to the region’s deteriorating security situation. The court reminded the defendants that their case is a federal case and that the federal courts have authority over them.
Defendants’ request for a change of venue to Lideta Federal High Court was granted, with the justification that doing so would provide a safer environment for all members of their hearing and would enable them to enforce Covid-19 preventive measures. The judge granted the defendants’ request but restricted the change of venue to a larger hall on the premises of the Federal first instance court, Arada Branch.
Now that the question of the judge’s replacement has been resolved, the court has ruled that prosecutors will present their witnesses and the proceedings will continue as planned. The prosecution team’s request to release the identities of the witnesses was also refused. The court sided with the plaintiff, who claimed that exposing the witnesses’ identities would jeopardize their safety. On April 7, 2021, the testimony of half of the prosecutors’ 50 witnesses will be heard in a closed session.