Former intelligence chief objects corruption charges

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Addis Ababa, December 16 (WIC) – Former intelligence chief Woldesilassie Woldemichael today submitted written objections to prosecutions’ charges of corruption.

Woldesilassie, formerly head of Internal Intelligence and Security Services, is currently facing abuse of power charges.
In a hearing today attorney Meressa Fisseha, lawyer of Woldesilassie and two other co-defendants, submitted to court a five-page objections to the charges instituted by prosecutors of the Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (FEACC).
Prosecutors allege that Woldesilassie used his official position to influence the printing and sale of a book titled ‘Terrorism in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa’ written by him. The first charge relate to the manner in which the book was printed and distributed.

In the written objection, Woldesilassies’s lawyer argued that the details of the prosecution’s charge ‘does not constitute an abuse of power’ and requested the charges to be either amended or rejected.
“If the alleged crimes are committed merely due to the defendant’s ability to influence others, then it does not constitute an abuse of power,” the lawyer argued. “…If the alleged crimes are committed by deceiving others, then the appropriate criminal provision may be fraudulent misrepresentation.”
‘No Mandate’
Woldesilassie faces nine charges in total which include owning property beyond his means of income, tax evasion and money laundering charges.
The lawyer also challenged the mandate of the FEACC prosecutors to institute tax related charges. Of the nine charges, four are tax related.
“It is prosecutors of the Ethiopian Revenues and Customs Authority (ERCA) that has the mandate to investigate and institute charges on tax related offences,” he stated. The defense extended a similar line of argument for money laundering charges stating that the charges should be filed by prosecutors of the Ministry of Justice. 
The defense also requested for separation of charges between corruption and tax related offences. They argued that the 15th criminal bench, which mainly presides over corruption cases, “shall not preside over tax related criminal proceedings”.
Woldesilassie is charged alongside his brother Zerai, his sister Terhas and a close friend Derir Kebede. The court adjourned the case for December 24. 

The former intelligence chief is a defendant in another pending grand corruption case at the same criminal bench along with high profile government officials including Melaku Fenta, former director general of ERCA, and prominent businessmen. 

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