Amharic stringer Eskinder Frew reported on Monday that in appearances before an Addis court, the cases of the more than 40 Ethiopians suspected of a terrorist plot to assassinate three high-level officials of the government and destroy telecommunication and power facilities have been delayed for an added 14 days.
A lawyer for one of the defendants told VOA that the court took no legal action against the suspects, who have not been charged. Only two of three have been identified publicly by the government since the arrests of 35 suspects on April 24. On Monday, April 27, a judge gave the government 14 days to conclude an investigation and charge or release each of the suspects.
However, the government took no action today as groups of those accused were led through the court while citizens stood outside the court asking for information about missing family members. Suspects driven to court in military vehicles were shielded from public view, two or three to a car.
Among those previously identified by the government are Brigadier General Tefera Mamo and Melaku Tefera, a former Coalition for Unity and Democracy party official. Following more arrests a few days after the first sweep, the government announced that five more arrests has been made and named Brigadier General Asaminew Tsige as one of six military officers now in jail as suspects.
Others believed in jail on terrorism charges include a wedding videographer who is the cousin of one leader of Ginbot 7 and the brother and the 80-year-old father of another. The government says the Ginbot 7 leaders Berhanu Nega of Bucknell University in Pennsylvania and Andargachew Tsige of London are behind what the government first called plans for an attempted coup d’etat. A government spokesman later amended their charge said that because a coup was not possible under the current administration the purpose of the alleged assassination plot was terrorism.
Ginbot 7 is an organization formed by Ethiopian arrested following the 2005 national elections in which Berhanu Nega was elected mayor of Addis. Berhanu, Melaku and other opposition leaders such as Birtukan Mideksa, served approximately two years in prison following street violence between demonstrators and police in which dozens died. Birtukan, a former judge, now serves a life sentence in an Ethiopian prison.