By Tamiru Tsige |

(The Reporter) – Andargachew Tsige, who was extradited from Yemen a year ago and faces the death penalty on terror charges, is to appear before court on Monday as defence witness in a separate trial.

The Federal High Court, nineteenth criminal bench, issued an order on Tuesday for Andargachew to appear before court following a petition by defendants in a case which has been pending for the last two years.

The defendants, who are ten in number, are defending terror charges for allegedly having clandestine relation with Ginbot 7, a group Andargachew was affiliated to and designated as terrorist by parliament.

In their charge, federal prosecutors have alleged that the defendants in Zemenu Kasse et al case of receiving military trainings in Eritrea and plotting to carryout acts of terror in Ethiopia including the assassination of government officials. Prosecutors further alleged that some of defendants have met Andargachew in Eritrea.

Five of the defendants, who are alleged to have met Andargachew, listed the Ginbot 7 leader as their defense witness and requested the court to issue summons for the Addis Ababa Prison Center.

Prosecutors had argued for the defendants’ petition to be rejected on grounds that Andargachew has been stripped off his civil rights following his past convictions.

However, the court rejected the prosecutions’ plea and ordered Andargachew to appear before court on Monday stating that his appearance will not be an exercise of civil rights but rather duties.

Based on the court’s ruling, Andargachew would be expected to testify whether he had met the defendants in Eritrea.

Andargachew, who also holds a British citizenship, was sentenced to life in prison in absentia in June 2007 on charges of attempts to unconstitutionally overthrow the government along with 196 defendants which included then prominent opposition leaders. Andargachew was also among a group of Ginbot 7 leaders who were sentenced to death in absentia in December 2009 on terror charges.

UK is opposed to the death penalty and has been expressing concern regarding the manner of Andargachew’s incarceration.

“I am deeply concerned that, a year after he was first detained, British national Andargachew Tsige remains in solitary confinement in Ethiopia without a legal process to challenge his detention. I am also concerned for his welfare and disappointed that our repeated requests for regular consular access have not been granted, despite promises made,” Philip Hammond, UK’s foreign secretary, said in a statement last month.

Should Andargachew appear before court on Monday, it will be his first public appearance in Ethiopia since his extradition from Yemen in July last year. He had since appeared in videos on the state TV broadcaster.

Source: The Reporter

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