Pardons, ethnic clash tops court report

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The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) announced that it granted pardons to 503 individuals in recognition of the Christmas holiday. The release was made by prioritizing women and elderly in addition to the other legal requirements. The office also announced that 13,122 certificates were issued for individuals who applied for amnesty issued by the Parliament, excluding the beneficiaries form Gambela, Somali and Afar Regions because they had not sent the appropriate information yet.
The proclamation is effective over six months beginning in July 20, 2018 and goes until January 21, 2019 so people can petition for pardons up during that time period. There are 13 crimes eligible for pardons.
Zinabu Tule, the public relations director told journalists that their office is investigating clashes that have occurred throughout the country.
Hawassa
In Hawassa prosecutors have filed charges against multiple people for instigating violence in clashes involving Wolytia and Sidama nationalities.
In one case police presented evidence against 67 people suspected of contributing to fighting in Hawassa prison. The suspects include one high official from the prison administration and five members of the police force, according to Fekadu Tsega, Director at the OAG. The charges are based on conflict between the Wolyita and Sidam Nationalities in the prison.
The second set of charges involves the former city mayor and 33 other people for leading violence which broke out in Hawassa Town. Not every one of those 33 people are in custody as some have fled. There are 75 other people being charged with related crimes as well which Fekadu says are still being investigated.
Burayu
The clash between the Burayu and Addis Ababa youth is another event under investigation. Police believe that the violence stemmed from fights which got out of control and then were flamed by rumors and innuendo. For example, Fekadu talked about one false claim that made its way to broadcast media saying a little girl was killed and covered with the emblem of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF).
A woman spoke with the media and said she saw a little girl being raped and killed. This became a major instigator for violence between Oromo and Addis Ababa youth. She later apologized saying that she made the claim because she thought it could have happened and she wanted to ‘inflate the activity’. According to the suspects under custody, they participated in violence because they saw their friends being beaten by the Addis Ababa youth when they tried to welcome their leaders to the capital city.
The situation escalated when youth tried to paint an emblem on city roads, according to Fekadu.
With regards to the events in Burayu town the Attorney General pressed charges against 109 people, while 28 are still at large. Three hundred and twenty one people were released because there was not enough evidence to try them. One of the difficulties in this case is that people traveled from Addis Ababa to fight in Burayu and then left so it was hard to determine who was involved. There are at least four police included in the charges and one station commander from Addis Ababa.
The head was charged as she and her colleagues were unable to prevent a child from being killed by a mob for wearing a t-shirt that had similar colors to the OLF emblem.
According to the update, there were about 37 individuals killed in Burayu and 28 in Addis Ababa. Two people were burnt beyond recognition.
“Political appointees and security forces actively participated in the violence,” said Fekadu discussing places like Burayu, Hawassa, Benishangul and others.