Dr. Merera Gudina, Chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) was denied bail during his hearing at the Federal High Court Arada Bench on Thursday, December 29, 2016. The court also gave the police another 28 days to gather more evidence in the case.
During his closed court hearing, Dr. Merera denied any terrorism allegations and said that he has spent his life teaching against violence and terrorism, according to his lawyers.
His lawyers further stated that the accused is in custody due to claims that he has been in contact with groups that have been characterized as terrorists as well as for violation of several parts of the State of Emergency proclamation.
“Of course we objected and we asked the court to grant bail but the court rejected that and it extended the hearing for another 28 days. Our first request was to cancel the whole proceeding because there was no legitimate ground for charging him with the accusations but of course the court overruled us. Failing on that, that is when we asked for bail,” Yakob Hailemariam, one of Dr Merera’s lawyers stated. He further said that so far there are only allegations and there is no substantial evidence
Dr. Merera was detained upon arrival in Addis Abeba after finishing a tour of several European countries for more than three weeks. During his tour Dr.Merera delivered a speech to members of the European Union Parliament on current political situations and human rights issues in Ethiopia. Dr. Merera was joined by two other invitees at the European Union Parliament: Dr. Berhanu Nega, leader of the opposition Patriotic Ginbot 7, which is labeled by the Ethiopian Government as a terrorist organization as well as athlete Feyisa Lilessa.
The Ethiopian Embassy in Brussels had stated on December 20th, 2016 that Dr Merera was arrested for violating directives of the state of emergency.
“Despite his awareness of these provisions, Dr. Merera Gudina allegedly met and spoke with the leader of a group listed as terrorist in Brussels from 7-9 November 2016. Hence, the arrest of Dr Merera Gudina is not related with the meeting in the European Parliament but the alleged discussion with the leader of a terrorist group. If this meeting is confirmed by the investigation, this would have to be considered as a clear and deliberate violation of the state of emergency,” the statement had read.