House to resolve Melaku Fenta constitutional dispute

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Addis Ababa, December 31 (WIC) – The House of Federation (HoF) will hold emergency session on Tuesday to pass a final decision on a constitutional dispute in relation to Melaku Fenta’s criminal proceeding.

Melaku’s case was referred to the house for constitutional clarification which would determine the appropriate federal court which should have material jurisdiction to try the former director general of the Ethiopian Revenues and Customs Authority (ERCA).

The Council of Constitutional Inquiry, a professional body tasked to investigate constitutional disputes, has submitted its decision to the HoF early December. The finding is not made public as the final decision rests with the house.

Federal Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission prosecutors, in May 2013, arrested Melaku and filed corruption charges against him and over sixty other defendants, including prominent businessmen, at the Federal High Court.

Citing Article 8 (1) of the Federal Courts Establishment Proclamation, Melaku argued that as a government official with ministerial portfolio and a member of the Council of Ministers, his case should be referred to the Federal Supreme Court.

Judges at the Federal High Court fifteen criminal bench unanimously sought for constitutional clarification saying Article 8 (1) ‘deprives a defendant’s constitutional right of appeal if the Federal Supreme Court has first instant jurisdiction over the case’.

The court adjourned the case until it receives a constitutional interpretation from the House of Federation. The matter is expected to be resolved when the court reconvenes on January 13, 2014.

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