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Ethiopian court turns down bail request of Oromo Congress leader

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Merara Gudina, leader of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) addresses a rally on 1 December 2016 (AFP Photo)

By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

March 11,2017 (ADDIS ABABA) - Court in Ethiopia has rejected bail application of a prominent opposition leader from Oromiya region detained since three months, his lawyer told Sudan Tribune on Saturday.

Merara Gudina, leader of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) was arrested early in December shortly after return home from Brussels where he met members of the European Parliament.

At a court hearing on Friday Merara’s lawyer requested bail grant arguing the defendant is arrested without tangible evidence.

The lawyers further asked the court to consider the roles the former MP had played in the country’ politics.

However, prosecutors demanded the defendant to remain in custody to allow police gather evidence. He further argued that the accused could flee the country if released on bail.

Merara is allegedly charged with "attempt to forcefully overthrow the constitutional order," a serious offence punishable up to death penalty.

The leading Oromo opposition figure known for his critics against the government was arrested on December 1 last year for violating sections of the state emergency decree by meeting members and leaders of outlawed opposition groups during his European tour.

Last November, Ethiopia declared a six-month state of emergency and banned wide spreading anti-government protests which sparked in Oromiya region over alleged land grabbing and government’s clamp down on political freedom.

In Brussels, Merara appeared at EU parliament to testify on Ethiopia’s current political situation and on alleged reports of gross human right violations.

He delivered a speech along with Berhanu Nega, leader of Ginbot-7, an opposition movement long branded by the government as a terrorist entity.

Merara is charged along with Berhanu Nega and Jawar Mohamed, a prominent Oromo activist.

The trial of Merara will resume on April 24, 2017.

(ST)

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Merara Gudina, leader of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) addresses a rally on 1 December 2016 (AFP Photo)
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