Ethiopia: Bloggers case adjourned again

(Borkena) Incarcerated members of zone9bloggers and close friends ,journalists by profession, made their court appearance again to no avail of charge laid against them.

Court adjourned their cases again on grounds of police claim that it did not yet finalize its investigation, reported Addis Guday. Police requested another 28 days to complete investigation and court adjourned the case for June 14,2014.

According to report by Addis Guday, police has elevated the case from criminal offense to “terrorism.”

Lawyers of the bloggers and journalists pointed out that Police failed to finalize about six tasks of investigation for which adjournment was granted in previous court appearance. Lawyers took the request for additional 28 days for investigation as an act of procrastination. The procedure under which the case is elevated from criminal offense to charges of “terrorism” by the police is also opposed by lawyers of the bloggers.

Probably, there is more room under “terrorism legislation” for the police to play around “incrimination with no evidence” to withstand the burden of proof. Under normal circumstances, the burden of proof on police would have been quite clear as the charges appear to be ridiculous. But again, institutions of justice under the current regime in Ethiopia do simply seem to be outright tools of repression.

Friends and supporters of the bloggers put together global online protest campaign. “Blogging is not a crime” slogan was all over the cyber world during the week leading to today’s trial.

Apparently, other nationals were vocal in the campaign for the release of zone9bloggers. Transforming “criminal offense” to charges of “terrorism” on the part of the police (regime) might also be a response to “blogging is not a crime” campaign.

Determination is apparent on the part of friends and supporters of Zone9bloggers to continue with global campaign until the bloggers are released. One could expect that the next campaign might target the new charges of “terrorism”

Bloggers and journalists are still experiencing torture and abuse. Atnaf Berhane told the court that he is taken out of his cell in the middle of the night for torture.

Asmamaw Hilegiorgis, one of the incarcerated journalist who works for Addis Guday, had to plead for a chance to speak during his appearance today. Asmamaw told the court that while the investigating officer is convinced that he is not member of zone9bloggers, he is being psychologically tormented by the investigator who is bugging him to tell him what he knows about zone9bloggers.

The regime in Ethiopia is know for repression against journalists and opposition members. Many Ethiopians are behind bars for dissenting voices and opposition to policies of the ruling party.

Written by Dimetros Birku

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