Court to rule whether charges against former intelligence chief be amended

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Addis Ababa, December 26 (WIC) – The Federal High Court has adjourned the case of former intelligence chief Woldesilassie Woldemichael for a ruling on whether charges should be amended.
Prosecutors of the Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (FEACC) accuse the former head of Internal Intelligence and Security Services of abuse of power, tax evasion and money laundering charges.
Last week Woldesilassie argued for the charges to be dropped or amended on grounds of lack of clarity and details. Through his lawyer, he also challenged the commission’s mandate to file charges on tax related offences. He argued filing criminal charges on tax related offences falls under the mandate of the Ethiopian Revenues and Customs Authority (ERCA).
On Tuesday, the commission’s prosecutors responded to the objections arguing against any amendments to the charge.  Prosecutors stated that the objections raised by the defendant are not grounds to seek for an amendment and could be resolved when the trial reaches examination of evidences.
On the issue of mandate on tax related crimes, FEACC prosecutors argued that the decision to lump together corruption and tax related charges involving the same defendants, evidence and subject matter is convenient for court proceedings and is consistent with criminal procedure laws.
The court has adjourned the case for January 6, 2014 to rule whether the charges should be amended or not. 
Woldesilassie faces nine charges in total which include owning property beyond his means of income. He is charged alongside his brother Zerai, his sister Terhas and a close friend and legal adviser Derir Kebede.
The former intelligence chief also faces a separate pending grand corruption case at the Federal High Court along with high profile government officials including Melaku Fenta, former director general of ERCA, and prominent businessmen.

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