January 9, 2006
Back in Addis
Day two in Addis Ababa and everything seems peaceful. The combination of Christmas and Id Al-Adaha (Arafa) has kept traffic to a minimum and large chunks of the population at home with their loved ones.
One of the first things I did was buy all the English-language papers and settle back with a succession of macchiatos for an update.
Fortune came up with the best report on last week's court appearance of the arrested CUD leaders, alleged rioters and journalists. It was a true blow-by-blow account of the proceedings complete with reactions from the packed courtroom. Fortune hasn't published the article online yet, so it will have to put up with my plagiarism.
Applause and tears in court - Fortune 8 Jan 06
...The main agenda at the Wednesday January 4, 2006 Court session was to rule on the defendants' request for bail at the last appearance, but it also considered the case of Binyam Tadesse, who claimed to be 14 but had been charged by the prosecution as a 16-year-old.
The Court ordered in the last session that police should handle Binyam with special care and have a medical examination done to determine whether he was underage or not. The 2004 Criminal Code states that people between the ages of nine and 15 shall not be subject to ordinary penalties applicable to adults, nor shall they be kept in custody with adults.
Binyam was charged with the alleged crimes of outrage against the constitutional order, criminal conspiracy, and obstruction of constitutional power. During his first court appearance he wore his school uniform, this time he was dressed in a white T-shirt and trousers. The one thing that remained the same though was the look of fear on his face.
After checking the presence of the defendants, the Court looked at Binyam's case first. The Presiding Judge Adil Ahmed read a medical examination from Black Lion Hospital which confirmed the age of Binyam was between 16 to 18. Murmuring could be heard from people in the Court and there were many loud sucking noises from around the courtroom.
When Judge Adil began to read the charges to Binyam the lad spoke faintly: "I have a birth certificate" he said as he scratched his head. The Presiding Judge asked him where it came from; he responded that it was from the church. The murmuring and sucking of lips continued through the exchange. The Presiding Judge held off on giving a decision about Binyam until after ruling on the bail request of the defendants.
...After the recess, Judge Adil ... took into evidence Binyam's birth certificate and adjourned his situation until the next session to verify the contradictory results of the medical examination and the certificate. The prosecutor Shimeles Kemal objected that scientific results are conclusive for such cases and that the birth certificate should not be taken as evidence. Shimeles' argument raised guffaws among people present in Court.
The Sub-Saharan Informer had an interesting interview with the State Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr. Tekeda Alemu, you can see the article on the journalist's blog Things We Should Have Written Down. He says there is a full transcript of the interview on the paper's website. But I couldn't find it.
And, to leave politics to one side for a minute. It looks as though my post about Su Dokus last month wasn't so off-subject after all. If the puzzle pages of Ethiopia's English-language press are anything to go by, the craze has apread to Addis Ababa.
Posted by aheavens at January 9, 2006 1:46 PM