Ex-Somali region’s President denies criminal charges at Federal Court

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ADDIS ABABA – Former Somali Region President Abdi Muhamud returned to Federal High Court on Tuesday where he’s facing criminal charges with 47 others, journalist reports.

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Abdi Muhamud Omer alias Abdi Iley appeared at Federal High Court Lideta Branch, 4th criminal bench, where he faced head-on with federal prosecutors.

In August this year, Muhamed had accused prosecutors and judges of prejudices, arguing that his defense team was not given fair time to ‘respond’ to charges against him.

And at the court on Tuesday, Muhamud pleaded not guilty to all charges l against him, arguing that they were unfairly instigated by authorities.

“Other than administering the [Somali] regional state, I did not commit any crime; I am not guilty,” he said, adding that the case should be dropped.

The former president also insisted that what happened at the Somali region in August 2018 ‘is not different from what is happening now across Ethiopia’.

At least 59 civilians mostly non-locals, were killed by protestors, with 266 others severally injured following the deadly violence in Eastern Ethiopia.

Muhamud was arrested in August 2018 with the 47 other individuals for alleged incitement. Their case has dragged in court for the last 15 months.

Judges also issued a warrant of arrest for seven other people implicated in the violence. They are yet to be located by authorities for months now.

During the crisis, soldiers were deployed in Jigjiga, the capital of the Somali region, after an apparent rift between local authorities and the national government.

Protesters set fire to a church and looted shops and targeted non-Somalis. The state accused Muhamud of sponsoring the violence for political gains.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Ahmed Abiy has struggled to contain ethnic violence in the Horn of Africa region, a move that threatens his global reputation.

This month, Abiy won the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize ostensibly for his role in the signing of a peace deal at Eritrea following decades of conflict.

Last week, however, internal skirmishes escalated in Ethiopia, with police shooting dead 27 protestors at Oromia region.

The protests were precipitated social media alert from activist Jawar Mohammed. He had accused the government of withdrawing his security ‘without explanation’.

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