Mr Lidetu Ayalew

Mr Lidetu’s Court hearing on 23 Oct/20

Lidetu Ayalew, one of EDP’s founder and longest-serving leadership, appeared before Oromia Highest Court today.

His charge was “violently undermining the constitutional order”. The prosecution cited three ” evidence” for bringing the charge.

The first was that of Lidetu’s written document of May 2020 where he made his case for the establishment of a transitional government.
The second being his draft book in the Amharic language of Dec 2019 entitled ” From Bad to Worse”. The third point was, his speech to the media that the government’s legal mandate to rule the country lawfully would expire on the 10th of Oct/20.

After the charge was read, Mr Lidetu’s lawyers submitted, their client should not have been charged for exercising his constitutional rights of freedom of speech. They further submitted, as it is the duty of the opposition parties to table alternative policies peacefully, their client hasn’t committed any illegal offence at all apart from exercising his constitutional rights.

Since Lidetu’s charge is bailable and he is also suffering from a serious heart condition, his lawyers asked the Court to release him on bail to seek medical attention for his heart problem.

When given the opportunity, Lidetu submitted to the Court, because of the adverse conditions in police custody, his health matter has now become a matter of life and death & he is not sure whether he can make it to next hearing alive.

The Court adjourned for the 30th of Oct/20 to deliberate on the bail application and to hear Mr Lidetu’s lawyers submission against the charge.

As the days go by, the Court drama is not only unfolding unabated but also the whole matter is going from bad to worse. We have seen it before; we have been there; we certainly got the message from the regime. It is now becoming indefensible. Mr Lidetu is arrested and charged simply for exercising his constitutionally enshrined right – freedom of speech.

This is a big joke and a mockery of justice on the part of the incumbent regime. The total disregard for the legal system with serious implications will undoubtedly remain as a big scar on PM Abiy’s conscience.

Lidetu was arrested on 24 July 2020 and has been in police custody for the last 91 days. He appeared so far before Bishoftu Woreda Court 5 times, at East Shewa High Court 10 times and at Oromia Highest Court 5 times.

It is to be remembered that the police blatantly defied the Court’s order to release Mr Lidetu on bail five times.

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