Ethiopia : Police say Bekele Gerba investigation completed

Bekele Gerba claims that his arrest is politically motivated, and that he did not take part in the latest “unrest” in Ethiopia

Bekele Gerba _ Ethiopian Court
Bekele Gerba (right) and Jawar Mohammed (left). Photo : Social Media (JMP)

August 4, 2020

Vice-Chairman of Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), one of the largest ethnic Oromo nationalist parties, Bekele Gerba appeared at the Federal First Instance Court in the capital Addis Ababa on Tuesday.

Police investigation team told the court that it has finalized investigation on him in connection with the latest strings of carnage and destruction of property following the assassination of Hachalu Hundessa in the capital Addis and in many towns across the Oromo region of Ethiopia.

He is suspected of inciting what police called a civil war, and police have opened a file on a charge related to the incident that claimed hundreds of lives and destruction of properties worth hundreds of millions of birr.

Due to the order that the suspect gave, said police, he has incurred over 37 million birr damages in the transportation sector alone; of which 7.4 million birr loss in the public sector and 29.8 million birr worth of destruction of property in the private sector.

Furthermore, citing 27 witnesses’ police said that the ethnic and religious-based violence in Shashemene and its environs claimed the lives of 32 residents. 110 hotels and 239 residential homes are burned. 393 residential homes are looted. 56 stores blazed while 146 are looted.  80 vehicles, 1 factory, and 9 mills entirely destroyed with fire.

According to the police, 4 banks, and 2 credit unions, 63 businesses and 18 motorbikes were also destroyed, and 128 citizens displaced from their places in the town and its environs. 

Police also told the court that it has seized seven handguns of which two, illegal ones, were recovered from Bekele Gerba himself.

Evidence presented to the court indicates that when Hachalu Hudnessa’s body was on its way to Ambo, his birthplace, on the request of the family, Bekele Gerba (from other reports, along with Jawar Mohammed) ordered road blockade and forcefully returned the body to the capital Addis Ababa with the plan to put the body at the Mesqel Square (seemingly for viewing), and march to demolish Emperor Menelik II statue in the center of the city near St. George church. According to the police investigation, Hachalu’s body was also taken to Oromia region’s Prosperity Party office in Addis Ababa where there was an exchange of fire between forces on the side of Bekele Gerba and special forces of Oromo region. One member of the special force was shot dead while three others were wounded, according to the police account.

Bekele Gerba on his part told the court that he did not take part in the crime. “Since it is known that I have prominent participation in politics, the intention is to arrest me and exclude me from the election.” It is to be recalled that The House of Federation has postponed the election until after nine months to one year after the Coronavirus disease is declared as no more a threat to public health.

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