Teddy Afro returns to prison in tears
Addis Fortune | April 29, 2008
Teddy Afro
Teddy Afro
ADDIS ABABA - The Federal High Court on Tuesday denied bail for the release of Tewodros Kassahun (Teddy Afro). The 30-year-old sensational singer, who is accused of a hit and run homicide, will spend the duration of his trial in prison, according to Addis Fortune newspaper.

The court has ruled to hear four witnesses - all police constables - referred to by the prosecutor against the singer on May 21, 2008. This was despite his defense lawyer Million Assefa's request that the witnesses should testify within a maximum of one week, if not today.

The prosecutor rather requested the bench to be given a reasonable time to summon all the witnesses, and was therefore given 22 days.

When the proceeding was adjourned, the popular singer Teddy burst into tears, sources told Fortune. He was not alone: a number of fans that gathered to follow his trial, amid the tight security, left the compound crying.

On November 3, 2006, investigators from the Addis Abeba Police Commission arrested Teddy, accusing him of killing 18-year-old Degu Yibelete, a street dweller who came from Gojjam. After he was put under custody for a day, Teddy was released on 50,000Br bail on November 4.

The popular singer was formally charged on April 16, 2008 on two counts, homicide (including driving without license) and fleeing the scene of a crime. Homicide would carry up to a 15-year prison sentence and hence make him eligible for bail. Nevertheless, prosecutors added another charge of failure to help a victim whom one has injured. This involves an additional penalty of one month to two years, thus he could face up to 17 years in prison if found guilty.

Although his defense lawyer had requested the merger of the two charges in the earlier hearing, it was not accepted.

Ethiopian law stipulates that defendants involved in crimes carrying sentences greater than 15 years shall not be permitted bail.

Ethiomedia's note - Courts in Ethiopia suffer from a lack of judicial independence, and are strictly used to quash dissent, or whip citizens into government line. But Teddy Afro's songs promote strong messages of unity and love, concepts that are inimical to a regime that survives by promoting ethnic division and hate. As a result, many see Teddy's arrest, and the continued denial of his right to bail, as a political vendetta (the regime is known for applying a slow-death treatment).

Judges who also decline to carry out government orders as "court verdicts" also pay the price. For instance, senior judges who upheld their conscience and profession have fled the country after facing death threats. Cases in point are judges who served on an Inquiry Commission that held the government responsible for the deaths of 193 civilians in the wake of the ill-fated 2005 elections, as a well as Judge Teshale Aberra, former president of the Oromia Region Supreme Court, who fled the country and saved his life, but left a brother behind, who was tortured severely he is now paralyzed and still in prison. - An African-American news and views website.
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