Ethiopia: Outcry Over Arrest of Three Oromia Supreme Court Judges After Allowing Bail to Jawar Mohammed’s Security Detail

Addis Ababa — Police in Adama, East Shoa zone of the Oromia Regional State, detained three judges of the Oromia Supreme Court, Eastern Criminal Division, without due process of the law, an informant who is close to the matter but asked to remain anonymous told Addis Standard.

The Judges Dessaleny Lammii, Mohamed Jimaa and Abdiisaa Waqjiraa were detained on Friday, 04 October around 02:40 PM local time from their offices located inside the court premises; they were detained by members of local police of the Adama city, an a source close to the matter told Addis Standard.

Speaking on conditions of anonymity, the source said that the police have accused the judges of being suspected of terrorism-related offenses. However their detention came shortly rafter the judges ruled the release on bail of six security personnel of opposition leader Jawar Mohammed. They were arrested in October this year during the weekend of the Irreechaa celebrations and remain in detention since.

Their arrest stirred outcry on social media among the legal community as well as condemnation from Chief Justice Meaza Ashenafi and Rights Commissioner Daniel Bekele.

Meaza condemned the arrest saying that it is “extremely concerning”, and added “there are strict procedures to be followed to remove the immunity of judges and arrest them when suspected of committing criminal offense”. Meaza said the Supreme Court was “trying to verify the situation and request for the reversal of such measure which is a dangerous precedent that seriously impacts the independence of judges and their institution.”

Pointing at similar incidents in the past, Meaza said that “Plenum of Federal Supreme Court & Regional Courts have previously issued a resolution against such practices following some illegal measures against judges in some regional states.”

Chief commissioner of Ethiopian Human Right Commission (EHRC) Daniel Bekele (PhD) in his part said “is an assault on independence of the judiciary. They should be released immediately and unconditionally.”

According to a report by EHRC the arrest was made based on a warrant from a lower level Woreda court, which the court issued without knowing the suspects were Judges and later ruled it void.

However Addis Standard confirmed that the judges remained detained at the Dambala sub-city police station in Adama city until the publishing of this news.

The Oromia Supreme Court didn’t issues a statement on the arrest of its judges. Attempts by Addis Standard to get a comment from the court were unsuccessful. AS

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