Federal High Court orders former chief of Somali Region to defend his case

The Federal High Court ruled that the former head of government of Somali Regional State, Abdi Muhammad Omar (aka Abdi Ille), should defend the case brought against him by the prosecutor, sources said. The court said on Monday, 28 August 2023 that Abdi should react to the accusation filed by the special prosecutor, Ethiopian Insider reported here.

Abdi’s lawyer told Ethiopia Insider that the court acquitted 16 of the individuals accused under the file of Abdi Ille during the 28 August 2023 trial.

advertisementsThe 1st Anti-Terrorism and Constitutional trial of the Federal High Court, which has been dealing with Abdi’s case, was scheduled for today to give a verdict on the case filed by the prosecutor. Based on this, the court ruled that 26 of the 42 defendants whose cases are being heard in the trial should defend the case filed by the prosecutor.

Among the individuals who have been asked to defend the case presented by the prosecutor included Abdi Mohammed who governed the Somali Region for eight years. Abdi’s lawyer told Ethiopia Insider that the main charge brought against the defender by the prosecutor is committing “a crime against the government by carrying a weapon or inciting a civil war”.

The Federal High Court reached the decision that the defender, the former president of Somali Region, should “defend” this criminal case, according to his lawyer Eskindir. The court passed its decision based on statements forwarded by the prosecutor’s witnesses. If Abdi is found guilty without being able to properly defend this case, he may face life imprisonment or death penalty, the Criminal Code stipulated.

In today’s hearing, the Federal Prosecutor announced that  apart from the main case against the defender, a verdict was also given on the “alternative case”. Lawyer Eskindir said that the charge is “a crime committed against the constitution and the constitutional system”. However, the trial rejected the alternative charge on the grounds that “there is no human or documentary evidence presented by the prosecutor,” the defendant’s lawyer told Ethiopia Insider.

The Federal Attorney General filed charges against other high officials of the Somali region, including the chief administrator of the Region, in connection with the conflict that happened in Jigjiga Town five years back. It is to be recalled that after the outbreak of the conflict, on 27 June 2018, the Somali Regional Council revoked the immunity of other councillors including the former head of state.

The day after the emergency meeting of the State Council, Abdi was arrested by the Federal Police in Addis Ababa. Six months later  the Federal Attorney General filed charges against him along with 46 other defendants in a single case and Abdi has been following up on his case in prison. Due to the conflict that led to the arrest of the former head of state of Somalia on the same case file, over 59 people have been killed and more than 266 people have suffered light and serious injuries.

It is to be recalled that the conflict that broke out in the Somali Region caused an additional damage of 412.4 million birr to banks and insurance institutions, business organisations and government offices as well as private residential quarters and properties. The Federal High Court adjourned the cases of the defendants until 13 November 2023.

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