Lidetu to Walk Free Yet Again

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Bishoftu Town District Court has closed the criminal investigation case of Lidetu Ayalew, the founder of the Ethiopian Democratic Party (EDP) today, August 31, 2020.

In its ruling, the court stated that the police had enough time to finish investigating the alleged crimes of Lidetu, and there was no legal justification to hold him under police custody any longer.

Lidetu, who was arrested on July 24, 2020, was suspected of funding and organizing protests in Bishoftu town, Oromia Regional State, following the Killing of Hachalu Hundesa.

In the 69 days, Lidetu was under police custody; the former parliamentarian was brought in front of a judge five times. In the first four court sessions, the police asked for more additional time to further investigate the case, and the court subsequently approved their requests. Lidetu was also denied his bail request despite his plea that he had a severe medical condition.

In the fifth court session held today, the police stated that they had finished their criminal inquiry to the alleged crimes of Lidetu, and prosecutors asked the court grant them 14 days to charge Lidetu with the suspected crimes.

However, the court denied their request as it believed that the criminal investigation had already taken enough time, and the request had no legal ground.

Today’s court verdict means that the police can’t any longer hold Lidetu under custody to investigate the crimes he is currently suspected of.

However, prosecutors can still charge Lidetu with the alleged crimes, but they will have to open their case while Lidetu is a free man.

But before walking away free, Lidetu will have to ask for his bail right in a new case file as the current court file is closed.

This is not the first time Lidetu is walking away free from criminal charges and investigations. The politician has frequently been jailed, and today’s ruling marks the fifth-time Lidetu was able to walk away free from the police and prosecutors.

Lidetu is a senior opposition leader in Ethiopian politics and was a member of the House of Peoples Representative parliament for five years after winning a 2005 election seat.