AG charges 2,000 linked to Hachaalu’s killing
The Federal Attorney General said it has charged 2,000 individuals alleged to have participated in various ways in the protests and violence following the killing of the prominent Oromo musician, Hachalu Hundessa.
This was disclosed at a press briefing the Attorney General Gedeon Timoteos (PhD) gave along with the Foreign Languages and Digital Media Head of the Prime Minister’s Office Press Secretariat, Billene Seyoum, on Thursday September 24, 2020.
It is to be recalled that more than 9,000 people had been detained right after protests held in Addis Ababa and Oromia, subsequent to the assassination of Hachalu. Among the detainees are prominent politicians like Lidetu Ayalew of the Ethiopian Democratic Party, Eskinder Nega of the Balderas, as well as Jawar Mohammed and Bekele Gerba of the Oromo National Congress (ONC).
Briefing the media on the status of the rule of law over the past three months and beyond, Gedeon stated that singling out and attacking minorities in parts of the country were observed. 160 people have died and 360 people have sustained injuries accordingly. In addition, 4.6-billion-birr worth of property was damaged as a result of the violence instigated in Addis Ababa and Oromia.
According to Gedeon, the charged individuals participated in the killing of Hachalu and incited violence with various degrees.
“The scale and manner to which the crimes were committed posed a challenge by itself. So, the enormity of the crime was the main challenge we faced,” Gedeon stated.
On her part, Billene argued that such kinds of pockets of violence in the country are not indicative of the government’s limited capacity to protect citizens from attacks. She added that the government had thwarted unreported attacks, terrorist activities and it should not be judged because of the reported attacks that gained media attention.
Gedeon also said that, apart from preventing other attacks, the fact that perpetrators have been brought to justice will deter future attempts of violence.
Prominent politicians like Jawar Mohammed had claimed in court that they were detained because of their political views and the government wanted to get rid of them from the political space as elections approached. But the Attorney General downplayed such claims and argued that no link should be made between the political roles of the individuals and their charges.
“We have to distinguish between correlation and causation. Some of the people detained were politicians but they are not detained because their political activity,” he said.
While indicating some court cases have been delayed, he said he hopes the recent appointment of judges will ease the burden on the judiciary to quicken trials and sentences.