ethiopiantimes

March 21, 2012

Ethiopia: Former Regional President to See Regular Trial Over Alleged Corruption

Filed under: Ethiopia,Meles Zenawi — ethiopiantimes @ 11:10 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Judges at the Federal High Court ruled last week in the case of Yaregal Aysehshume, former president of Benishangul Gumuz Regional State, who was also an MP and director general of the Federal Cooperative Agency, and six other defendants charged for alleged corruption, for them to go through normal trial procedures.

The case has been under summery charge ever since law enforcement agencies arrested Yaregal and his co-defendants in October 2010, accused of abuse of office, concealment of unearned assets, and corruption. The Court has been conducting the case in a preliminary inquiry since then, in which public prosecutors presented 27 pages of charges, with material and testimonial evidence.

The defendants, including Habtamu Hika, former chief of the Region’s Education Bureau; Gezahegn Adegeh, general manager of Gad Construction; Gedion Demeke, general manager of Gedion Demeke Consultancy; Mekbib Moges, general manager of Colon Construction; Assefa Gebeyehu; and Hailegebriel Hika, a younger brother of Habtamu, also presented their statement of defence.

Requesting that both parties present their evidence, Presiding Judge Abohoy Guade, adjourned the case to June 12, 2012, despite appeals from the defence lawyers for the time to be shorter.

Family members of the defendants who crowded almost half of the spacious Federal High Court 15th Criminal Bench hall, on Chad Street, were not pleased. Yaregal’s wife, Tigist Bekele, was among the family members seen crying in the courtroom.

Defendants were charged for allegedly tampering with the bid process for the construction of three educational institutions, whose costs were funded from the federal subsidiary budget given to the Regional State in 2006. This resulted in the delay of construction, which was supposed to be completed within a year.

Tana Beles, a boarding school for women, Gilgel Beles Teachers Training College; and Assosa Technical & Vocational Education & Training (TVET) Centre were the institutions planned to be constructed in the five zones of the Regional State during the presidency of Yaregal.

Yaregal and Habtamu had allegedly handed over the design and supervision work of the three projects to Gedion Demeke Consultancy, without a competitive public bid, while Gezahegn is charged for allegedly receiving construction work for Gilgel Beles upon paying three million Birr to Yaregal and Habtamu, in kickbacks. Mekbib Moges is also charged for receiving the construction work of Assosa TVET, paying 700,000 Br to Yaregal in bribe

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