Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Kangaroo Truth(Part Two)
By A contributor
Ethio-zagol apologizes for the delay in the publication of the second part of the court room drama. Since journalists are prohibited from publishing the full proceeding, the contributor to this blog has decided to put out ever detail of the drama. It is the greatest farce and you shouldn't miss it. I promise to post the details of this drama daily.
The prosecutors entered the courtroom at exactly 9:45 followed by the "judges". Adil then immediately checked if the mike was working and asked for a technician. When he announced the beginning of the show by saying "criminal file number 43246", the attendants of the trial murmured that they couldn't hear. Judge Adil quickly confirmed if all the defendants were present and explained the reason why the trial was adjourned until May the 8th, 2006. "The trial was adjourned until today," said Adil, "mainly to hear the video evidences presented by the prosecutor and to hear the complaints made by the defendants against the police and the prison administration."

The judge asked the defense councils to give their names for the record.

"Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam Araya, defense for Netsanet Demssie and Daniel Bekele, defendants' number 94 and 95 respectively".

"Aklilu Solomon, defense council for Kassahun Kebede, defendant number 92".

"Is the prosecutor ready to present its evidences?" asked Adil.

Prosecutor-It is to be recalled that on the May 2nd, 2006 trial the court gave us permission to present the video evidences in the same sequence as they are presented in the list of evidences submitted to the court.. Accordingly we are ready to show the video evidences. The prosecutor further said that since he listed 24 video evidences, he would like to present a brief summary explaining which charge would be supported by a particular video evidence. He also argued that he would like to present the facts and issues he intended to establish in a particular charge to be stated at the time when each video was presented for a hearing and explained that the video evidences would establish the alleged criminal acts and prove the guilt of the defendants.

The prosecutor expressed his intention to the court that he prefered to present only some segments of the video that he believed would be relevant to the charges brought and argued further that this was to expedite the proceedings. According to him, each video cassette on average would take two hours to show, and therefore the court should grant permission for the presentation of only some segments of the video.. He then put forward his interest to present the part of the video which focused on the main issues to be established and was adamant that this would not impair the defendants right to defend themselves.

Regarding the contents of the videos, the prosecutor said; "except four videos which are to be presented in full, selected segments that concern the main issues in the charges would be presented form the other 13 videos". The status of the remaining 7 videos would be seen to prove the charges depending on how they are framed.

Adil then asked the prosecutor to confirm if his request was to present the four videos in full, only relevant segments of 13 videos and to decide on the manner how the remaining 7 videos would be presented since they are repetitions.

"Prosecutor" asked Adil, " are you asking to present the 7 videos in full?".

We believe that all evidences submitted would support the case except that some are repetitive. So we ask the court to give us permission to present our evidences in the manner we request to present it.

Judge -At any rate the court will decide whether or not the entire video evidence should be heard in court. However the prosecutor’s request as to whether or not the third category of video evidence consisting of 7 videos should be presented in full, or in part is not clear to the court. This is up to the prosecution to decide. Nevertheless, the court would give ruling on this issue in due course.

At this point Birtukan Mideksa got up and said; “I have a very short question. When was these video cassettes delivered to us? As far as I know, none of us have received the said videos and perhaps I suspect that they might have been given to other groups of defendants.”

Prosecutor- We have deposited the video evidences at a time when we submitted the list of evidences.

Judge- But the defendants had not received the said evidences.

Prosecutor-We have deposited an original copy for the court and another copy to the defendants to be collected from the registrar of the court either through their lawyers or in any way convenient for them.

Defence for Kassahun argued that while it was the defendants who were victims of the trial process , the prosecutor could not demand on their behalf that only four videos out of the 24 would be presented in full at the trial justifying that this was in the interest of speedy trial. If the videos were presented only in partial as requested by the prosecutor, there would be a risk of interpreting the statement or the alleged fact out of context and therefore would jeopardise his client's defence. He then noted that It had been more that four months since the defendants had been formally charged and yet his client had not been provided with none when he was supposed to see each one of the evidences presented against him. "Therefore, the prosecutor should either choose to present all the evidences in full or the court should reject his request to present the video in partial.
The court should make a ruling to the effect that all the evidences listed should be given to his client." the lawyer for Kassahun, Aklilu Solomon contended. He also argued that the prison administration should provide a facility in the prison where he and his client sit and watch the videos.

Further the council submitted that since the alleged crime his client was charged with was related to and dependent on the charges that relate to the defendants listed from number 1- 39(the CUD leaders) on the charge sheet, and since those defendants have withdrawn from participating in the trial proceedings, it was imperative that all the evidences presented against the “main defendants” should be presented in all to determine the alleged guilt of his client.
Lawyer: We shall be given an unreserved access to the prison to be able to consult our clients and prepare our defense. Once the prisoners appear in court and when the court is in session or in recess, the council for the defense should be allowed to freely discuss with the clients in court and the prison guards should not be allowed to instruct the lawyers to do this or that and rather it should be the registrar of the court which has the mandate in the court.

Mean while Daniel Bekele, who is one of the three civil society defendants, approached the table for the defense and reached out for his defense council and started discussion.

The defense for Kassahun further argued that partial presentation of the video evidence would be disadvantageous to the defendants. So it would be in the interest of the public, the media, international community observing the trial and the defendants themselves to get to understand the gist of the entire proceeding that the video evidences should be presented in their entirety on the trial.

Adil interrupted the defense saying that he should only respond on the issue of whether or not the video should be presented in all or in partial.

Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam Araya, defense for Daniel Bekele and Netsanet Demssie on his part submitted that the prosecutor in his statement of what evidences he would like to present to support his case had not clearly indicated as to which one of those evidences in his list relates to his clients. Besides, Mengistu told the court that his clients had not received any one of those video evidences. He further argued that if the evidences mentioned by the prosecution related to his clients, they should have been provided with the copy of each of the evidences mentioned in the list to enable his clients understand the charges against them well and prepare their defense properly and told the court that this was their constitutional right. However, said Mengistu, “the prosecution has failed to do so and this is procedurally not correct.” He also told the court that, he should be able to study the evidences to prepare the defense for his clients and therefore requested the court that they should be allowed to make copies of all the evidences the cost of which to be borne by the defendants themselves.

At this point Daniel Bekele, defendant, interfered and said that he wanted to know... Adil interrupted him and asked him to tell the court who he was. “I am Daniel Bekele and would like to know as to what the issues that the prosecutor wanted to establish and prove with these video evidences”.
Daniel: ok if the issues do not relate to us, i.e.,myself and Netsanet, the other civil society defendant...
Judge (interrupted):
There are two questions here, on the one hand, Netsanet and Daniel are asking whether or not the said video evidences relate to their case, and on the other hand have requested that either the video cassettes should be presented in full or they should not be presented as evidences at all. Does the prosecutor has any thing to say on the objection made by the two defendants?

The prosecution argued by justifying his position as to why he was in favor of partial presentation of the video evidences in court. He said that he tried to clarify his argument in his request to the court to get permission to do so. He further elaborated saying that it was in line with the basic principle of providing speedy trial in which both parties to the case would benefit from. He contended that primarily it was out of the concern to serve justice and not because he wanted to present the evidences in partial to give interpretation out of context as alleged by the defense council whom he described as his colleagues in the same profession. He also said that the prosecution had no problem in presenting the evidences in full if the defendants believe that doing so would not prolong the proceedings against their interest.

Prosecutor: The manner in which we choose to present our evidences is not at the mercy of the defendants and; therefore, we have the right to choose how and when to present our evidence. The court, however, always has judicial authority to decide on the issue of whether or not the evidence should be presented in partial or in full. On average the video cassettes would take at least two hours each. If the defendants think that it is crucial to hear all the 24 evidences in full, the prosecutor will not object.
Regarding the issues raised by the defense for Daniel and Netsanet, since the crime relates to riot, it is linking all the defendants at different level of participation and this is clearly stated in the charge sheet.
Nevertheless the prosecution denied that there was request made by the defendants or their lawyers to get the copy of the evidences. He also argued that the prosecution had repeatedly stated that the evidence presented against one defendant would be presented against the other defendants since, he claimed, all were charged of the same crime. He also said that he had no objection on the issue raised by the defense council to get the copy of the evidences and they could mention the convenient way to get access to the evidences so that their right to defend themselves would not be affected.

The prosecutor further argued that it was in good faith that he suggested presenting only segment of the video evidence which he stated was relevant, and not to distort facts by taking such statements or speeches out of context.
prosecutor: It was with the assumption that the defendants has received the evidences and that they would be able to control and check the proper flow of the evidences that we suggested to present the evidences in such a manner.

He then told the court that, the prosecutor had got permission from the court to the effect that it was only at the time where a particular video cassette was presented that the prosecutor would be required to indicate which issues he wanted to prove through that particular cassette.

Judge: After few minutes recess the court will give ruling on the issues presented to it.

Court in recess.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that justice has been cured of its blindness by the EPRDF's saline solution of Judge's who do not know their asshol'es from their ear holes!

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