Court to rule on charge amendment in Melaku Fenta case

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Addis Ababa, 18 March 2014 (WIC) – The Federal High Court Fifteenth Criminal Bench has adjourned the case of Melaku Fenta et al to April 24, 2014 for a ruling on whether the charges filed against the defendants should be amended.
The bench on Tuesday received written objections from prosecutors of the Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (FEACC) defending their charges filed in three separate dockets.
Their objection is in response to the defendants request for the charges to be either amended or rejected citing various legal grounds.
In what is deemed as a major anti-corruption sweep, the FEACC detained more than 60 individuals including senior government officials, businessmen, commission agents and brokers in May last year.
The case has been dragging for almost ten months now with defendants yet to enter their plea.
Apart from Melaku, former director general of the Ethiopian Revenues and Customs Authority (ERCA) and former deputy Gebrewahid Gebretsadik, prominent businessmen are indicted in grand corruption charges.
The list includes Nega Gebreegziaber of Netsa Trading Plc, Ketema Kebede of KK Trading Plc, Simachew Kebede of Intercontinental Addis Hotel, and Dr. Fikru Maru, founder and CEO of Addis Cardiac Hospital.
Four defendants including Getu Gelete, founder and major shareholder of GetAs International, are being tried in absentia.
Details of the prosecution’s charge reveal conspiracy between government officials and the businessmen to unlawfully interrupt several investigation files and charges against the later.

The accusations range from maladministration, appropriation and misappropriation in the discharge of duties, possession of property not commensurate with official income to control of arms and ammunitions.