Prosecutors file separate charges in Melaku Fenta et al case

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Addis Ababa, 4 July 2014 (WIC) – Anti-corruption prosecutors amended a third indictment file in Melaku Fenta et al case separating charges as per the Federal High Court’s order upheld by the Federal Supreme Court.
The amended indictment file contains 14 defendants and nine counts of corruption charges as opposed to 31 defendants and 28 charges in the previous indictment file.
The defendants include Melaku Fenta, former director general of Ethiopian Revenues and Customs Authority (ERCA) and his ex-deputy Gebrewahid Gebretsadik.

The big-name businessmen including Ketema Kebede, Nega Gebreegziaber and Getu Gelete also remain in the charge along with the ERCA officials. After missing several hearings due to health reasons, Ketema appeared before court today from Zewditu Hospital.

Getu, founder and major shareholder of GetAs International Plc, and Nega Teni, former check point officer at ERCA Adama branch, are being tried in absentia.
The offenses inscribed in the charge include maladministration, abuse of power, bribery and possession of unexplained property.

The amended charges were readout in court to the defendants before the court adjourned the hearing to July 18 to give both sides a chance to respond to the amended charges.
The remaining 14 defendants from the older indictment file will each expect to face a separate bribery charges and will have a separate trial after entering a plea.

Judges at the Federal High Court today told the prosecution to follow the proper channel of filing charges through the court’s registrar against the defendants whose trials would be held separately.   
It is to be recalled that prosecutors of the Federal Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission opted for the third indictment file to remain intact. However, the 15th criminal bench of the Federal High Court ordered separation of charges for half of the defendants.

Prosecutor’s challenged the court’s order filing an appeal to the Federal Supreme Court, which also upheld the lower court’s decision on Tuesday, June 30, 2014.