Court sends Teddy Afro's lawyer to jail
By Tesfalem Waldyes [AF] ǀ 6 August 2008
When a judge at the Federal High Court, Eighth Criminal Bench, announced his verdict for sensational singer Tewodros Kassahun, a.k.a Teddy Afro, defend himself against an allegation of homicide last month, his fans were calculating the number of days he would spend behind bars before his next appearance on October 9, 2008. Today, this calculation turned to his lawyer, Million Assefa, who was sentenced to serve one month and 20 days in jail, after a guilty verdict of contempt of court passed.
Calculating the remaining 64 days for Teddy Afro's next appearance, only 14 days are left for his attorney to prepare for witness hearings. However, Million might have enough time to discuss this with his client should prison officials put him in the same cell in Kaliti Prison where Teddy Afro is.
Million had appeared before the court yesterday, accused of contempt of court after he made a statement published on a local Amharic weekly, Addis Neger. Million quoted on the newspaper two weeks ago that he has plans to lodge complaints against Judge Leul Gebremariam, who currently presides over the trial of Teddy Afro, whom prosecutors accused of involvement in a hit and run case, where an 18-year old homeless man was killed in a car accident, in November 2006.
The verdict by the Eighth Criminal Bench of the Federal High Court two weeks ago, made by the presiding Judge, did not please lawyer Million. He threatened to lodge his complaints against the presiding judge to the Judicial Administration Council. Telling to a newspaper his intent to take a judge to this council is within the bounds of the right to appeal; the right to lodge complaints against a judge to a judicial review body; and the right to free expression guaranteed under the constitution, according to Million's attorney, Abebe Asamere.
This statement was not taken by the court lightly. Judge Leul agreed with the legality of the right; however, he said it should not be done in a manner that undermines the court. This shows how the defendant puts himself above the law, according to Judge Leul.
"The defendant did not deny his plan to lodge complaints against the judge," Judge Leul said. "This is an assault on the human and professional integrity of the judge; while it obstructs him from determining on the case with free conscience. It displays contempt to the constitutional independence of the judiciary."
The defendant's statement threatened, insulted and undermined the judge that hears the case, the presiding judge said before establishing Million's guilt as a source, and Mesfin Negash, editor-in-chief of the weekly as a disseminator.
"He had no criminal record or disciplinary problems," Attorney Abebe pleaded to the court during his mitigation appeal.
Million is an attorney to the national electoral board, and serves as vice president for both the Addis Abeba Bar Association, and the Ethiopian Bar Associations Union. He is also an active participant in the government's ongoing justice reform programme, especially in training judges and drafting bills. He is one of the architects of the recently passed press law.
This will not spare him from serving time in jail: At about noon, he was sentenced to spend 50 days in jail.
Mesfin will not have to spend anymore days in jail; although he was sentenced to one month, his term has been put on suspension for two years. If he will be charged and found guilty on any other case within this period, serving the one month becomes immediately effective. After two days under police custody, Mesfin was released immediately after the judge read his ruling. He left to his home, accompanied by his mother and wife.
"This is it," Million, seated inside a tinny room inside the Federal High Court's compound, on Smut Street, told Fortune.
He was waiting for the paper works to be processed before a van comes to take him to Kaliti Prison, where his client, Teddy Afro, has been detained for over three months now.
"These are the people who represent the system," he said.
Million will appeal against the verdict to the Supreme Court, sources close to him told Fortune.
Teddy Afro's lawyer and the contempt charges
By Tesfalem Waldyes ǀ Addis Fortune
5 August 2008
The highly disputed charges against Ethiopia's sensational singer Tewodros Kassahun, fondly called by his fans Teddy Afro, appears to take a different twist this week.
His attorney, Million Assefa, and Mesfin Negash, editor-in-chief of the Amharic weekly Addis Neger, are under custody after they are accused of contempt of court.
Million, who is also an attorney to the national electoral board, and one of the architects of the recently passed press law, represents the singer against charges of homicide involving hit and run. He is now under police custody, first arrested late Monday afternoon, after spending his day inside the Federal High Court in Lideta area, on Smut Street.
He has appeared before Judge Leul Gebremariam, presiding over the Federal High Court's Eighth Criminal Bench, this morning before he was sent back to jail at the Addis Abeba Police Commission.
The presiding judge took an offense after a local Amharic weekly, Addis Neger, run a front page news story two weeks ago, reporting that Teddy Afro's attorney decided to lodge complaints against Judge Leul at the country's Judicial Administration Council.
The council was formed under constitutional mandate to recruit judges to the Prime Minister so that the latter nominates them to Parliament; and review their ethical and disciplinary conducts. Should it find judges guilty of breach of conducts, it advises parliament to remove them.
A verdict by Judge Leul two weeks ago, ruling for the singer to defend himself against prosecutors' charge that he was involved in the death of Degu Yibeltal, a homeless young man killed in a car accident more than a year and half ago, promoted the attorney to contemplate lodging his complaints against the presiding judge.
Attorney Million is not alone to spend days in jail accused of contempt of court. The weekly's Editor-in-Chief, Mesfin Negash, was called by police on Monday, August 4, 2008, to give his statement and remained under custody since then. He appeared before the court on Monday, and submitted a recording of the interview conducted by Addis Neger's reporter, Abraham Begizew with Million; the newspaper run the story under the byline of the reporter.
Judge Leul asked Million this morning to look at the newspaper, and if he had anything to say. Million admitted to the court that the story was sourced to him, that he was rightly quoted by the newspaper. His attorney, Abebe Asamere, argued that his client has the right to express his views on a newspaper and it should not be taken as contempt to the court.
Abebe argued on three points: The right to appeal; the right to lodge complaints against a judge to a judicial review body; and the right to free expression guaranteed under the constitution.
"For a defending lawyer, the right to appeal is allowed," Abebe told the court. "It is not a crime to explain this."
Abebe said that if one has a complaint against the court's procedure, he ought to appeal to the Council asking for a disciplinary inquiry. Reviewing a complaint against a judge is one of the three duties the council is given, according to Abebe. He also said that an individual has a basic right to express his views with a narrow limitation. If such view is deemed untrue or a threat, it would fall on the limitation; however, his client's plans to lodge complaints against the Judge should not be taken as a threat or as prejudicial influence. Abebe also mentioned the act was done outside of the court, and pleaded for the release of his client.
The revised Criminal Code of Ethiopia, issued in 2005, states that if a contempt of court is not committed in an open court but while the judge carrying out his duties, the punishment would be imprisonment not exceeding six months or fine not more than one thousand Birr.
Judge Leul asked whether the defendant and his lawyer thought that they could give any comment on a case under litigation.
Interestingly, this question has brought a critical question the media in Ethiopia faces when covering court related matters. It has yet to be clear what constitutes outside the bounds of media coverage when cases are under litigation.
"This case is not yet finalized," Judge Leul said. "However, you took it as a final verdict."
The Judge demands an explanation from Million on his statement in the newspaper that the court replaced the job of that of the prosecutor. He also asked whether or not the court denied any opportunity of presenting witnesses. Million said all the things raised in the story were part of his planned appeals against the Judge.
"I said those are my reasons for appeal," Million told the court. "The appellate court is the one that may or may not accept this appeal."
Judge Leul adjourned the case for Wednesday, August 6.
Mesfin appealed to be granted release on bail; he reminded the Judge of his promises to grant him release on bail when he first appeared before the court on Monday.
"I am sick," Mesfin told the court.
The Judge ruled that the Editor-in-Chief remains under custody until final ruling. However, he allowed Mesfin to be provided with medication.
The New York based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) protested his arrest in a statement it issued today, and urged Ethiopian authorities for his immediate release.
"The arrest of our colleague Mesfin Negash is an example of how authorities will find justification to detain journalists who cover sensitive issues, and criminalize independent reporting," Tom Rhodes, CPJ Africa Program Coordinator, said. "We call on the authorities to release our colleague immediately. The editor of Addis Neger has been arrested just because he was doing his job."
Both Million and Mesfin returned to jail at the Addis Ababa Police Commission, on Belay Zeleke Street.
Editor's note: As the saying goes, what goes around comes around. Million Assefa has been a vocal supporter the Meles regime. He was one of the authors of the grossly ludicrous and unjust genocide and treason charges leveled against leaders of Kinijit. He is also a key drafter of the new draconian press law. Million is now tasting the system of injustice he has made for others.
we all have to think of him 4 what he did 4 us
i swear to god i love ethiopia but not as i do tigray.
anyway, try to do whatever is ur dream and u will see again like rewanda and other countries who had civil wars.
I beleive it is too late now, since Teddy did not have no driver official issued driver license and pleaded not guilty.
Teddy Afro sent to Kaliti jail
By Wudineh Zenebe [Addis Fortune] | April 16, 2008
Ethiopia’s sensational stage performer, Tewodros Kassahun – popularly known as Teddy-Afro - is sent today, April 16, 2008, to the Addis Abeba Central Prison Centre after the Federal High Court eighth criminal bench, adjourned to rule over his appeal for right of bale on charges of murder.
He was under custody inside the Federal High Court, Lideta area, for couple of hours before a white minibus from the Prison Administration took him to Kaliti early this afternoon, together with other inmates. Fans, family members and his agent, Addis Gessese, have gathered inside the court before the minibus drove out.
Yet to be confirmed, he is believed to have been taken to Kaliti Prison Centre, located in the outskirts of the city. Dressed with red T-shirt and black pant, he appeared nervous and seemed unable to focus when talking to reporters gathered inside the Court, but maintained his innocence of the crime he is alleged to have committed.
“I’ve yet to compose my thoughts,” Tewodros told reporters who showered him with series of questions. “Nevertheless, I haven’t hit anyone with a car.”
On November 3, 2006, investigators from the Addis Abeba Police Commission arrested Tewodros Kassahun, suspecting him of leaving a scene of a car accident that they alleged has caused the death of an 18-year old Degu Yibelte. Degu, a street dweller who came from Gojjam to reside with his uncle before he moved out to the streets, was killed on the night of November 2, 2006, after he was hit by a car. Police was tipped on phone a plate number of a BMW by a taxi driver whose identity they were trying to establish at the time.
Later that night, around after midnight, a BMW owned and driven by the singer was found collided with a concrete that blocked road under-construction around Gurd Sholla area, on the road to the CMC residential complex. Police claimed at the time, the plate number of this vehicle was identical to the number they were tipped of by the unidentified taxi driver as involved in the accident that killed Degu.
After he was put under custody for a day, Tewodros was released on a 50,000 Br bail the following day, on November 4, 2006.
Prosecutors have now pressed charges against the popular singer: According to the Ethiopian Penal Code, a driver who hit a person to death and drives 15 metre away from the scene of an accident would be charged of homicide. The court is adjourned for Monday, April 21, to decide whether or not Tewodros be granted release on bail.
We all know this is a case politically masterminded - one of the witnesses of limitless human rights abuses.
You are all claiming that he is innocent on behalf of the court.
So you must be biggotted and slow thinking. U are the ones driving ethiopia back to 4 th century where there was no cout and poor people were opperessed.
Please improve your thought in order to be considered man rather than animals
Let god bless our contry. I have no doubt our lovely Tedy will be out of jail soon.
THE REAL STORY IS THE SOVERIEGNTY OF ETHIOPIA: DISREGARDED AND EXPENDABLE.
THE LAND THAT ARBEGNOCH DIED FOR IS BEING AUCTIONED OFF TO THE HIGHEST BIDDER...
IS THE REPORT OF TEDDY'S STORY AND OUR ANCESTRAL LANDS BEING SOLD OFF TO SUDAN A MERE CONICEDENCE?!?!?
PRAY FOR TEDDY! FIGHT FOR ETHIOPIA!
I made no "comparison", so Im not sure how you came to that conclusion. I was merely pointing out the fact that the news about parts of Ethiopian territory being handed over to Sudan and Teddy's story coincided...
Teddy and Ethiopia obviously are not one in the same, yet there is an undeniable truth, even you cannot deny: both belong to each other; both deserve defending and both certainly deserve our prayers!
Justice? Fairness? In the Land of Missed Opportunities, it would seem they are non-existent. Have you not noticed, wondime, that Ethiopia has had only 1 Prime Minister in nearly two decades?
Have you not heard, wondime, that Ato Meles insinuated a genocide was about to take place after the 2005 elections?
Finally, wondime, if these con-men in power were interested in the equal distribution of justice, don’t you think they would have consented with the citizens of Ethiopia to gain the approval of dealing parts of our Mother Land to rebels?
…It’s easy for you to claim "if he is guilty, let him pay" when the one being accused is not your relative.
Justice?... Im not so sure if it is she who is blind or you.
your ethiopian sis.
The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth
Opposition slur… crackdown: the re imprisonment of President Birtukan Midekssa is unlawful and morally daft.
Tadesse Walle, PhD, London ǀ January 23, 2009
The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth: Zenawi’s (PM) allegation that President Mediksa was re imprisoned for breach of conditions of pardon is plainly a smokescreen, a misrepresentation of fact and law; at best it is a travesty of justice. Indeed, the imprisonment is illegitimate, with no due process of law and the entire handling of the matter is inherently flawed; deceptive and is in dire conflict with the regime’s own ‘constitution’, conventional wisdom and jurisprudence. The naked truth, the whole truth, obvious to the ordinary man who trusts his common sense, with no rational thought, or logic, and who knows no sophistication by any standard, if given the opportunity to adjudge this matter, I have no doubt in my mind that his common sense would prevail over and above the PM’s façade of reality: flagrant aggression against prudent opposition parties intended to cripple, pre-empt genuine opposition that could potentially threaten his grip to power.
The re imprisonment of such a rising political star with a phenomenal paradigm of Ethiopian unity with equality, her urge and vision for genuine democracy, rule of law, and commitment to an everlasting justice has been incredible: enough to pose threat against the ethno-centric regime of Zenwi and his cohorts. The immaculate, iconic lawyer is known for defying injustice, particularly in the Seye saga and now is prepared to show her ultimate defiance against the injustice carried out in the country by calling for unity, democracy and justice. Such a principled fight which began as discharge of her professional duty has now turned to higher level - national duty, a duty to stand against injustice in the midst of all odds: the PM and his accomplice.
Imprisonment, torture, ill –treatment of citizens, intimidation of opposition party leaders, party members, sympathisers, journalists, human rights defenders , civilians and groups is evidently the rule rather than the exceptions in Zenawi’s ram shackled Ethiopia : Ethiopia, the mosaic of nations and nationalities, a land of antiquity, with proud historical past, sadly, has become the land of injustice and the land of the unruly where just men and women, parliamentary elect politicians, vibrant artists such as Teddy Afro, leaders such as President Midekssa are thrown into jail and the entire nation besieged for electoral ransom.
It is over seventeen years since EPRDF; in essence TPLF- known as WOYANE (for reasons) the ruling party, seized political power in Ethiopia. Many attribute the seizure of political power as a manifestation of historical accident, knowing that it was unintended for Woyane to reign in power and some by design, though not without reason. However, what matters, now is not how and why such a draconian group came into power, in the 1st place, but what it does now, its long term ramification on greater Ethiopia and Ethiopians in general ; what the future holds for all Ethiopians, if such a callous group is allowed to wreck the country with impunity! Is the end insight? Or is it the beginning of the end? It appears that it is not going to go away before it gets worse. Are we ready for the worse? What we observe today is a systematic government sanctioned campaign of violence, targeting supporters and perceived supporters of opposition party members. To date covert, security forces with civilian clothes, torture, abduct opposition party activists and otherwise abuse persons perceived to be associated with eminent opposition groups. Official impunity for ruling party cliques, arbitrary arrest, extrajudicial killing, detention, lengthy pre-trial detention, infringement on citizens privacy is routine; the re imprisonment of Ms Birtukan Mideksa and other political prisoners is a case in point.
Zenawi’s caricature and pre-empting of oppositions began by identifying and targeting reputed political organisations and leaders such as the late Professor Asrat Woldeyes, the president of the All Amhara People’s Organisation. This targeting effective opposition leaders and groups is no exception to President Birtukan Midekssa and UDJ, as the most influential and prudent extension of the then, Coalition for Unity and Democracy (KINIJIT), the party that thrilled a considerable number of Ethiopians by wining the hearts and minds of Ethiopians irrespective of their ethnic and linguistic divide.
Throughout TPLF’s power monopoly, it is not only the quest for democracy, rule of law but the fundamentals tenets of Ethiopian entity, national identity, territorial integrity and sovereignty has been the first causality. TPLF’s double drive of wrecking, reducing greater Ethiopia to small ethnic enclaves and the crippling of any democratic movement have been carried out either by using sheer force including carnage or using the legal setting, particularly the judicial system. Like any dictator, any such move has always been subject to Zenwi’s will: toxic if not slow burn. With no shred of doubt, the attack on President Birtukan Midekssa falls into one of these preferred duo approaches of the regime: using the legal venue to pre-empt the operatives of the party with a sole aim of bracing his one-party state: the TPLF.
Breach of pardon: smokescreen
Zenawi’s cry that President Mediksa was back to jail for breach of conditions of pardon is a smokescreen, has nothing to do with the law and is plainly a whitewash against the compelling truth surrounding this matter. The truth, the whole truth, but the only truth is this: the imprisonment is motivated for political reasons and not for breach of pardon. It is contended that there was no pardon breached as there was no pardon available neither at the time of her arrest or at the time of the release of KINIJIT leadership: forget the masquerade in the law and the inherent flowed due process orchestrated at Zenawi’s will. And the will of Zenawi was nothing but to convict Kinijit leadership including Ms Medkissa for no wrong doing and sought to have given pardon instead of setting free the prisoners of conscious. It is further argued that where there is no guilt, there cannot be conviction, and where there is no conviction there cannot be pardon. The prisoners have always been regarded as prisoners of conscience by the standards of Amnesty International and other prudent non- partisan organisations including Human Rights Watch. However, it is perfectly possible, as has been the case here, to convict the innocent, and arrange the grant of pardon: a perfect example of the travesty of justice, an absolute abuse of power and process. Zenawi would know, justice is a question of time and not of substance …justice would be done …and is likely to prevail against all odds inflicted by him. Zenawi would know, life imprisonment for Birtukan Midekssa , and the imprisonment of Teddy Afro a popular artist, is no less than the killing of Abune Petros by Graziani. The blood split of the Abune, was not left unpunished, … yewisha dem alneberemna (nothing to do with animal right activists). Zenawi would know, would have known that he would be accountable to his actions and omissions which he carried out with total impunity.
My previous articles, particularly, Mr PM: drop the sham charges, ( at the time of charge) and Kinijit the victim of legal fiction and abuse of process ( after conviction) following the imprisonment of Kinijit leadership, explains the current saga surrounding Ms Midekssa:
…on the facts and law, the charges appears to be born out of speculation, revulsion, and bias, hence unfounded. It is highly probable than not, the charges have been concocted, made up with a view to lock up dissent; it is a forgone conclusion that these charges (charges against Kinijit – see the articles) are a continuation of past similar charges that ended up butchering the opposition for power; zero tolerance to genuine opposition and frees press: a mockery of justice, democracy and a disproportionate flagrant violation of human rights’.
…Following the so called conviction of Kinijit leadership, it was stated that: …the mother of all sham trials and convictions against the icons of Ethiopia is not only flawed and perverse but is also a declaration of war against the virtues of democracy , civil rights protection and against the fundamentals of the Ethiopian people : typical to the irony of ironies and to the dismay of time and history ; the international community has witnessed what is meant to be a bogus trial , conducted by an incompetent court where just men and women who stand for democracy, human rights respect… and democracy alone are driven to jail by the most wicked state criminals of our 21st century.
Amnesty international’s finding of the sham charges fall square “…the grounds advanced by the prosecution to the charge of genocide do not even remotely match internationally recognised definition of genocide….” …and called for an immediate and unconditional release.
The reader would note that the recent saga and extravaganza surrounding Ms Midekssa is no different to that of the previous bogus, cooked and sham trial and so called conviction. It was bogus yesterday and is bogus now, and will remain bogus throughout time and history. The following is part of my justification:
In spite of the fact that the Ethiopian incompetent, inept court –Seume Zenawi, had found 38 Kinijit figures guilty of charges following the disputed May 2005 election, ranging from outrage against the constitution to aggravated high treason, the conviction was not safe and no prudent court would have convicted the Ethiopian icons for no wrong doing. In fact, a reverse charge, against the PM and complicit would have been the right course of action. By doing so the requisite standard and the burden of proving guilt beyond reasonable doubt (crime) could have been met as per the evidence and investigation carried out by the Commission of Inquiry accountable to the regime’s parliament.
The reader shall remember, the 38 prisoners of conscience did not plead guilty, Indeed, the Commission of Inquiry formed by the Ethiopian parliament to investigate the matter concluded that 193 were killed and 763 injured by government security forces and that the so called government had used excessive force including against children and mothers. However, against all odds, the outcome of the circus was concluded with convicting the innocents. Therefore, in accordance to the evidence and findings of the Commission , the guilty ruling must have been against Zenwi and his complicit. However, leju kemagna abatu dagna endilu, the outcome was fixed and the court chose to convict Kinijit, by admitting perjured and nursed documents.. In doing so Zenawi, persuaded himself that he had escaped wrong doing by allegedly transferring malice: self deception. Zenawi would know, would have known that this was a time bomb that could potentially change its course of action when the time is right, and the right time exists independent of him and his cohorts.
The crux of the matter: justice must not only be done but must be seen to be done
Zenawi’s allegation that Ms Mideksa had denied the grant of pardon whilst in Stockholm appears to be the usual Zenawi’s style of trapping opposition politicians on fake grounds. The alleged public statement from Ms Mideksa appears to be tittle-tattle than a statement under oath. It is apparent that the president was back in Kality to serve life imprisonment on grounds of hearsay evidence, unreliable and far-fetched evidence collected with a sole aim to put her back in prison.
One would ask what hearsay is. Put very simply, is repeating what somebody has told you. Certain documents may also constitute hearsay. Hence hearsay could be oral and documentary, which I am not intending to discuss in detail as this is not the sole aim of this piece. However, the admissibility of hearsay evidence is not straightforward. It is complex and legally intriguing. It could be dodgy, misleading or safe to use if rightly executed. Most civilised countries apply statutory safeguards, safe valves and give wide discretion to competent judges, if the presumption of using heresy evidence id justified in the circumstance. By doing so they exclude superfluous, manufactured and distorted evidence that doesn’t help make a just judgement. In fact, competent courts would scrutinise the alleged hearsay evidence, or the evidence in question, and make sure that the hearsay evidence, if admitted , is not contrary to the interest of justice, preservation of the rule of law and fairness. In the given scenario, a statement? in Stockholm, or ’ mistake made …’ allegedly committed by her, according to Bereket , is enough to put her back in prison,…life imprisonment…with no safeguards, no safe valve, no statutory protection and no matter whether or not their action is against the rule of law, and human rights conventions in spite of the fact that the government is a signatory of such international conventions!!!
The reader would note, Birtukan’s letter emphasised”…perhaps what I said was misinterpreted”. This is the problem of hearsay evidence, Birtukan was not given the chance to explain, challenge the evidence against her, or make their wrongs right , put it right nor help them know the fact of the matter….it simply is premeditated, designed to put her back in prison…it is harsh, callous. Put the legal argument to one side of the coin, see that other side of the coin, the moral issue, has the so called government totally run out of ethical issues, taking into account the personal circumstances of Ms Midekssa, was it not right to re pardon her, if pardon is the magic word they want to hear!! It is amoral and at best it is simply daft. Zenawi and complicit would know, time is short for their imagined planet, the wind of Obama …mania is blowing across the world, the world is a small village , it is now …now giving a death blow to Bush’s Guantanamo Bay. This healthy wind, inexorable wind is likely to cross the horn of Africa and blow the Ethiopian Guantanamo – KALIY, ban political prisoners from KALIY, heralding the release of all political prisoners including President Midkssa.
It appears that the PM and his complicit are deemed to enjoy themselves when they are on the wrong side of the law and against time. There appears to be propensity for malice. Bereket Simon’s response to the US Senators would illustrate the case, “ …First these opposition leaders had been tried and sentenced, and they asked for conditional pardon….if this person transgresses the law of the land , it would be a breach of the pardon, and that is what she did… She made mistakes and she has to account for it”. It is preposterous, but not a surprise nor an unexpected. This is a regime whose proven track record is marred with misrepresentation of fact and law. “…they asked for conditional pardon…” has been construed, and constructed with a sole intent to keep her in prison. For the PM and his squad, fact, truth is the making and the unmaking of their own mind … a world of their own choice, though truth, and the compelling truth exists independent of their mind and fantasy. As stated above the entire fabrics and substance of the re imprisonment of Ms Midekssa is not because there is a breach of pardon, but for their guilty pleasure.
What must be done?
For the last 17 years much has been said and written abut this rouge regime. Our failing is the strength of the regime. The regime capitalises over our petty differences, and enjoys our unfounded complacence…incompetence to resolve the most compelling problem of our country; the last seventeen years is enough to prove my allegation, sadly, I cannot runaway from this. It is time to shatter our differences, say enough is enough to ourselves before we say enough is enough to the misrules of Woyane. Is it time to subscribe to all forms of struggle and not prescribe to one form of struggle with no reality check!!! All forms of struggle must be on the table, we may not have to rule out, or rule in one form of struggle, as forms of struggle are not an end by themselves. Groups, individuals should and must challenge Woyane in one or in different forms, but essentially for one, and better Ethiopia. One should understand, accept that the cost for democracy is not that easy. Some would not even see the cost democracy as more than good meal, let alone the sacrifices of many…many good meals for a considerable period of time. The cost for democracy, justice, and the country we love to see as one Ethiopia costs life. With no meaningful and prudent journey, success is not a guarantee. It is time, in fact late - but not too late, to roll up our sleeves and contribute in any form one can. The end …may justify the means, though may not be the ideal option but in our scenario, we may have to subscribe to such logic, as the injustice surrounding our nation is beyond and above the survival of our nation: a reality which one must strive to bring change – a change beyond and above the realm of Zenawi.
The writer, Tadesse Walle, (PhD) can be contacted at:email@example.com
The Ballad of Teddy Afro
September 2nd, 2008 reposted Dec. 7, 2008
By Alemayehu G. Mariam
Teddy Afro in Zenawi's Kangaroo Court
The great Tewodros Kassahun (Teddy Afro) is Zenawi's most famous political prisoner in Ethiopia today. Zenawi jacked Teddy on bogus charges of vehicular manslaughter, failure to assist the injured and driving without a license. Teddy was out on "bail" until April 2008, when his bail was revoked for no good cause and taken to the lice-infested Kality prison. He was later caged in solitary confinement (administrative segregation), a severe disciplinary punishment reserved only for the most violent, incorrigible and destructive criminals in any correctional institution in the world. As Teddy left his last kangaroo court hearing in July, he proclaimed his innocence to the world: "I did not kill anyone! God is my witness. I did not kill anyone! God's powers are above all powers. I appeal to the sense of justice of all those who are sworn to serve this country. Without just cause, I have been caged in a lice-infested jail." There was not a dry eye in kangaroo court.
Teddy is Innocent!
The allegation in kangaroo court is that Teddy in the evening hours of November 2, 2006, driving his vehicle at a high rate of speed and without an operator's license, struck and killed a pedestrian. Teddy allegedly fled the scene of the accident without rendering assistance to the injured victim. Teddy denies the allegation. He told the kangaroo court: "I did not kill anyone!" Teddy is telling the truth. He is innocent!
How can we be so sure? We are so sure because Article 22 (3) of Zenawi's "constitution" says Teddy is innocent: "Everyone charged with an offense shall be presumed innocent until proved guilty by a court of law and not to be compelled to testify against himself." That is also the universal rule under Article 11 (1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (incorporated by express reference in Art. 13 of the "constitution" ), the Rome Statute of the International Court (Art. 66, presumption of innocence and reasonable doubt) and under the laws and constitutions of all civilized nations. For Teddy to be convicted of the alleged offenses, the prosecution must prove the elements of the alleged crimes beyond a reasonable doubt. The burden of proving Teddy's guilt is ENTIRELY on the prosecution. That burden of proof never shifts to the accused. Teddy does not have to do jack to prove his innocence. He does not have to call witnesses or produce any evidence in his defense. He has the absolute right not to testify in order to prove his innocence. (Art. 22 (3).)
Proof of guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt" is the highest standard of evidence known in the law of civilized societies; and ostensibly, Zenawi's kangaroo court subscribes to that standard as well. Proof of strong suspicion that the accused has done the alleged crime does not amount to "proof beyond a reasonable doubt". Evidence that Teddy possibly, probably, plausibly, and presumably did it, just does not cut it under the reasonable doubt standard. Proof that Teddy very, very likely did it, does not meet the standard of reasonable doubt. Proof that there is overwhelming evidence Teddy did it, but there is reasonable doubt (that is, a single doubt based upon reason and common sense, the kind of doubt that would make a reasonable person hesitate to act) about the pre-dated autopsy report or the contradictory testimony of the police officers does not meet the standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. A directive from Zenawi's office that Teddy be convicted because he wrote unflattering lyrics about him, refused to sing at his millennium party and sang songs that told the truth about his dictatorship is definitely not proof beyond reasonable doubt.
The evidence that transforms the "presumption of innocence" to a factual finding of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt is evidence "which, after the entire comparison and consideration of all the evidence, leaves the minds of the fact finder (judge or jury) in that condition that they feel an abiding conviction of the truth of the charge." Simply stated, the fact finder must have "moral certainty about the evidence presented against the accused to a point where s/he would act in reliance upon its truth in matters of the greatest importance to himself or herself." Ultimately, the universal rule is that if the fact finder views the evidence in a criminal case reasonably permitting either of two conclusions — one of innocence, the other of guilt — the fact finder is required to adopt the conclusion of innocence. Such is the foundation of the criminal law in all civilized societies. Even the kangaroo court in Teddy's case is supposed to follow these rules as manifested in Article 13 of the "constitution", and Article 141 of the rules of criminal procedure.
The Evidence Against Teddy
After a police investigation that has been going on since November 2, 2006, and with all of the massive investigative resources at the disposal of the regime, the scanty evidence assembled against Teddy shows the following: 1) A man claiming to be a cab driver called police and gave the license plate number of a vehicle registered to Teddy. 2) Police officers came upon the scene of the accident and found a man who appeared to have sustained injuries lying on the ground. They saw no vehicle strike the man. 3) The vehicle allegedly belonging to Teddy had sustained damages. 4) The cab driver who allegedly reported the incident to the police could not be located. 5) A death certificate produced in court showed the victim had died the day before he was allegedly struck by the vehicle registered to Teddy and killed.
The prosecution's case has more holes in it than a worn out fishing net. Here is a short list of the most glaring evidentiary deficiencies:
1) The autopsy report does not show the victim died specifically from trauma resulting from a vehicle collision. All it shows is that the victim died from blunt force trauma.
2) The autopsy report showed that the alleged victim had died one day earlier than the date of the hit and run that allegedly killed him. The prosecution claimed the date registered on the death certificate was a "clerical error". (By the same token, could it be that the license plate number reported to the police by the alleged cab driver at night implicating Teddy is an "observational error"? What is good for the goose must be good for the gander!)
3) The prosecution has not produced any forensic evidence connecting Teddy's vehicle to the deceased's injuries or death. No blood, hair, fiber or any other physical evidence belonging to the victim was found on Teddy's vehicle.4) The prosecution has produced no evidence on the mechanical condition of the vehicle. There is also no accident investigation/reconstruction evidence.
5) There is no expert testimony showing the deceased's injuries are consistent with vehicular collisions in general, or with the vehicle damage observed on Teddy's vehicle. There is no expert testimony in the form of traffic accident reconstruction findings to connect the cause of death of the alleged accident victim to the vehicle in question; and no data were extracted from the onboard "black box" of the BMW which retains critical parametric performance data in the seconds preceding impacts of the nature alleged in this incident, and often critical in vehicular manslaughter cases., e.g. engine rpm, brake status, throttle position, position of air bag sensors and restraint systems (which would be deployed in the event of high speed impact with an external object at factory preset specifications), time from maximum velocity to impact, etc. In high impact vehicle collisions, it could be reasonably expected that the driver and/or passenger could sustain minimally some soft tissue injury from secondary collision effects (e.g. sudden tensioning of the inertial belt retractor from high velocity impact, injury from debris, etc.). In any case, if Teddy's BMW had been involved in any kind of collision serious enough to cause the death of a pedestrian, one could reasonably expect evidence of some physical injury on him. But there is no evidence Teddy had sustained any physical injuries consistent with collision impact.
6) There is no evidence that at the time of the alleged incident Teddy was actually driving the vehicle. No witness has been able to positively identify Teddy as the driver of the vehicle that allegedly struck the decedent.
7) There is no evidence that the driver of the vehicle in question was "speeding" or driving at a high rate of speed, e.g. no evidence of fixed maximum speed limits for the accident location, no "black box" data or other expert or eyewitness testimony on traffic, road, weather conditions and visibility at the time of the alleged collision with the deceased.
The police officers testified that when they came upon the scene, they found an apparent victim of a hit and run accident. Supposedly, the victim had been drunk. They did not see Teddy hit and run from the scene. It was further reported that the police officers had difficulty expressing themselves in the official language, and without translation assistance, it was difficult to follow their testimony. Further, their testimony was conflicting.
9) Teddy was denied fundamental due process by the admission of hearsay evidence (an out of court statement given by a witness to the police) without cross-examination of that witness. When Teddy's lawyer objected to the evidence and complained that he can not defend his client in a manifestly arbitrary proceeding, he was ordered to serve 20 days in jail for contempt of (kangaroo) court.
10) There is no evidence that Teddy made any admission of culpability, and he has always maintained his innocence against the charges.
Enough of the theory and practice of reasonable doubt in Zenawi's kangaroo court! It would be a waste of paper and time to comment further on the kangaroo court proceedings. Suffice it to say that one finds more integrity, better prosecutorial trial advocacy, a more coherent judicial process and display of legal savvy in a mock trial courtroom in an American high school than in Zenawi's kangaroo court.
The Real "Crimes" of Teddy Afro in Federal First Kangaroo Court
Teddy Afro is in Zenawi's jail not because of any traffic or other criminal offense. Teddy is in jail because he pissed off Zenawi and his henchmen by getting in their faces and telling them like it is! Zenawi feels "dissed" by Teddy. He feels insulted. He wants to punish Teddy by showing him who is really "wearing those shorts (qumta) darned with 17 needles." That's why Teddy is in jail! That is why he will remain in jail. Zenawi knows it. So does everybody else. If Teddy would ask for a "pardon" tomorrow ("Lord! I have sinned against you!"), he would be out of jail before you could say jack.
Now, if you really want to know the "crimes" for which Teddy is rotting in a lice-infested jail, check out the following list of charges:
Charge 1: Crime of Love of Country.
For his entire artistic career Tewodros Kassahun, a/k/a Teddy Afro, has shown undying love for Ethiopia. In all of his songs and lyrics, said Teddy Afro has glorified Ethiopia, condemned mercenaries and thugs and paid homage to African fathers who have toiled to bring about African unity and promote pan-Africanism.
Charge 2: Crime of Speaking Truth to Power.
For his entire artistic career Tewodros Kassahun, a/k/a Teddy Afro, has refused to lie, and bow before thugs and thieves. In his album, Yasteseryal, said Teddy exposed the truth about the seizure of the throne by a criminal band of thugs.
Charge 3: Crime of Refusing to Bow Down Before King Kong.
For his entire artistic career Tewodros Kassahun, a/k/a Teddy Afro, has refused to bow down and worship King Kong.
Charge 4: Crime of Refusing to Sell Out or Be Corrupted.
For his entire artistic career Tewodros Kassahun, a/k/a Teddy Afro, has been offered riches and rewards beyond measure to sell out his integrity and honor. But on all occasions, he has adamantly refused to sell out. He was offered millions to sing at the Millennium Mambo but he refused; instead he sang for free to the public at the stadium.
Charge 5: Crime of Courage and Refusing to Be Silent in the Face of Inhuman Acts.
For his entire artistic career, Tewodros Kassahun, a/k/a/ Teddy Afro, has steadfastly refused to remain silent in the face of crimes against humanity, war crimes and human rights violations.
Charge 6: Crime of Advocating Reconciliation and Unity.
For his entire artistic career, Tewodros Kassahun, a/k/a/ Teddy Afro, has called upon all Ethiopians to unite. He has called upon Christians and Muslims to join hands and people of all ethnic backgrounds to live in harmony, peace and love in a single Ethiopian nation.
Charge 7: Crime of Singing Uplifting Songs.
For his entire artistic career, Tewodros Kassahun, a/k/a/ Teddy Afro, has sung songs that are, without exception, inspiring and uplifting. His music, songs and lyrics have been effective antidotes to diabolical efforts to undermine the spirit of the Ethiopian people. Teddy wrote and sang the subversive lyric, "Hold on, hold tight! Ethiopia's resurrection (Ye Itopia tinsae) is near, if only we forgive each other in love."
Charge 9: Crime of Captivating the Hearts of All Ethiopians.
For his entire artistic career, Tewodros Kassahun, a/k/a/ Teddy Afro, has sung songs that have captivated all Ethiopians, young and old.
Charge 10: Crime of Being the Most Inspiring Young Artist of His Generation
Tewodros Kassahun, a/k/a/ Teddy Afro, is without doubt, the most inspiring musical artist of his generation. Beyond his peerless artistic talents, said Teddy has inspired millions of people to yearn for democracy, freedom and human rights in a single Ethiopian nation.
Aggravating Circumstances in the Commission of the Foregoing Crimes
In the commission of all of the foregoing crimes, Tewodros Kassahun, a/k/a/ Teddy Afro, has acted with the intent to promote love and understanding among the people of Ethiopia, and in the furtherance of social harmony and national unity.
There is a mountain of evidence larger than Ras Dashen that Teddy is GUILTY of all 10 charges beyond a shadow of doubt.
The Ballad of Teddy Afro
"Teddy Afro! I charge you with a crime!!!" Thundered His Honor, the First Instance Kangaroo Judge. "What is my crime?" asked Teddy with his usual sunny smile, "Crime?" snorted His marsupial Honor. "Don't gotta do no crime! We'll just make you do the time. Make YOU, do the time! The time!! THE TIME!!!"
Teddy returned once more to plead his case, Said he to His Kangarooship: "Please hear me out, Your Honor, sir" "You must do me justice! Must do me right!" "Young man! I'd love to do you justice and right," But you can see, I am just a kangaroo judge and not very bright, I do as I am told, be it wrong or right."
Jah people stood in kangaroo court, Shouting, "Teddy is innocent, him no do no crime. "God him witness, Jah is Supreme Power. "Rulers of Babylon, free Teddy! "Unchain Teddy today! "Set Teddy free, "Let him be."
But them took Teddy back to the dungeon, A lice-infested hellhole they call Kality prison. Them vowed to break Teddy's spirit and pride, Them vowed him solitary keep, make him weep, deny him sleep! But Teddy, him put his faith in Jah. Him say, "Break my bones, bruise my flesh, Jah Man's spirit, Jah Man's pride will never diminish."
Teddy, him sat solitary in jail (no bail), Him sang Bob Marley (Ye Ityopia Anbessa) songs: "Africans Unite!" "Ethiopians Unite!" "Them belly full, but we hungry." "We gonna chase those crazy, Chase those crazy bunkheads, Chase those crazy baldheads out of our town."
The people cried, "It's a shame, an outrage!" Them ask, "Isn't it odd, isn't it strange, "To put a lion in a cage? "Isn't it odd, isn't it strange, "To see hyenas on the stage? "Hyenas chain a lion in a cage?" Them say, "It's a doggone outrage!"
Teddy Afro! You are our Hero! My HERO, Teddy Afro! "You rock so, you rock so, like you never did before." Bob Marley, him say: "Get up, stand up: stand up for your right!" "Get up, stand up: don't give up the fight!" Teddy: Don't give up the fight! Don't give up the fight… Don't…!
Free Teddy Afro, our HERO!!!!
Please sign the "Free Teddy Afro" online petition: http://www.petitiononline.com/TedyAfro/petition.html
One Ethiopia today. One Ethiopia tomorrow. One Ethiopia forever.
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The writer, Alemayehu G. Mariam, is a professor of political science at California State University, San Bernardino, and an attorney based in Los Angeles. For comments, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org