Alemayehu Zemedkun, the soft spoken ex-ministry of justice official has known Shimeles kemal, the chief prosecutor against the Kinijit leaders, from their university days. "Our friendship runs for more than 22 years," he told this blogger. It was a friendship which lasted differences in temperament, ideology and way of life. Yet the November 1 repression and the subsequent involvement of Shimeles in the prosecution of the leaders of Kinijit, journalists and civil society members led Alemayehu to question whether that friendship should continue. A mutual friend of both men, Action Aid policy campaigner, Daniel Bekele was among the people accused by Shimeles of treason and genocide.
Alemayehu recounted the day he had a seven hours debate with Shimeles about the trials. "First he was adamantly claiming that these people were killers. Then when I made a point to him that as a prosecutor assertions and declarations weren't enough and that he should have adduced evidence to the effect of his claim, he was saying there were things I shouldn't know," Alemayehu said of his conversation with Shimeles.
The story about the chief prosecutor was very surprising. When prosecutors at the Ministry of Justice were praying that they wouldn't be given the responsibility of prosecuting the political prisoners, Shimeles took up the task at his own request. "He always gets exultations from anti-social behavior. This goes even beyond that. It is a survival attempt as well," Alemayehu claimed. His theory is certainly plausible.
As a former judge, Shimeles Kemal made two notorious decisions which put him in the annals of infamy. The first was when he convicted and sentenced Professor Asrat Woldeyes, that great Ethiopian surgeon, who died latter after he acquired a debilitating disease in prison. Shimeles then convicted Muslim leaders who made a show of defiance against EPRDF at the great Anwar mosque. He was also presiding Dr. Taye W. Semaet's trial when his TPLF masters fired him. The reasons for his dismissal are yet unknown. "He ran into trouble with most people who knew the decisions he made. When he became attorney at law, he had virtually no client. His involvement in drafting the notorious Ethiopian press law didn't help either. He knew that despite his dismissal, his survival depended on the survival of EPRDF. He tried to give short term solutions to almost all of the party's problems, "Alemayehu said. Shimeles initiated the formation of surrogate union of journalists, tried to give legal justification to the prime minister's emergency law in the wake of the election, took over the case against the political prisoners, and drafted the draconian press law. According to Alemayehu, he was everywhere where the EPRDF needed him. "Not even senior members worked for the party like this," Alemayehu wondered.
The former justice ministry official also thought that this chief prosecutor was vengeful. "The decision to prosecute Daniel was taken by Shimeles himself. They were very close friends. Yet when Shimeles drafted the press law, Daniel became publicly critical of his friend's draft law. He was very upset with Daniel and was biding his time," Alemayehu told this blogger.
Alemayehu painted a picture of a chief prosecutor who was also quite paranoid. "One day we met after a ministry of justice meeting and he was visibly angry. When I asked him what happened, he told me the employees at the ministry hate him. 'I can see a cold, sene1 hate and revenge on their eyes, ' he said. I thought he was suffering from a serious psychological problem. He thought everybody hated him and he was ready to destroy them," Alemayehu said. Sene 1 was a day when 42 protestors who opposed the stolen elections were killed by TPLF sharp shooters.
So what did Alemayehu think of the charges? "They are so blatantly fabricated that it doesn't need my expert opinion to call them 'political charges'. Yet I believe and have strong evidence that they will be convicted. There will be a group of people who would be sentenced to rigorous imprisonment. There will be two other groups who get medium and light sentences," Almayehu predicted. I asked him the basis of his prediction. "I have talked with people who are taking care of the case. EPRDF recognized that it was on the verge of losing power because of the elections and it wanted to give a punishment for those who threatened its power. The trials are for the sake of the international community, to show them that the decision is made by an independent court. They know the international community needs only cosmetic efforts. I am sure the sentences will be given to the judge by Shimeles," Alemayehu replied.
Alemayehu will be a great asset for democracy activists in Diaspora. Please contact him and use his knowledge and inside information for our cause.
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