Sixty-eight individuals will be charged in relation to the incident

Nov 16 , 2019

Berhanu Tsegaye, Attorney General

In an investigation that took five months, the Attorney General held Asamnew Tsige (B.Gen) responsible for the assassination of Seare Mekonnen (Gen.), former army chief of staff, and his friend, Ge'zai Abera, a retired army general.

In a press briefing he gave on November 13, 2019, Berhanu Tsegaye also alleged that a 110-team clandestine cell was established to carry out the unsuccessful coup in the Amhara Regional State on June 22, 2019, that took the life of Ambachew Mekonnen (PhD).

“The real motive behind the coup attempt was to control power by removing the regional government and the delegates in charge of it,” said Birhanu. “The attempt coordinated by Asamnew involved many individuals from different parts of the country.”

Preparation for the coup allegedly started in May by Asaminew, who recruited former military members fired for disciplinary issues and activists in the Amahara Regional State.

Ambachew, who had replaced Gedu Andargachew in March, was in a meeting in Bahir Dar when he, his aide Ezez Wasse and Attorney General Migbaru Kebede were shot around 5:00pm. While the former two died instantly, Migbaru died of his wounds two days later at Black Lion Hospital.

On the same day, Seare and Ge’zai were assassinated in the former’s residence in Addis Abeba's Bole District around 9:00pm. They were allegedly shot by Mesafint Tigabu, a young soldier and team leader of a four-member security detail assigned to protect the army chief of staff.

After being wounded by other security officials in an exchange of fire in Seare’s residence, the wounded Mesafinit was taken to an undisclosed hospital for medical treatment, according to government sources.

“During the investigation, Mesafint disclosed that he went to Gonder invited by Asaminew and that he was promised money as a reward if he killed the army chief of staff, Seare, and his deputy Birhanu Jula (Gen),” claimed the Attorney General, who added that the attack on the chief of staff was perpetrated with the intention of weakening the federal military. “He was also promised assurances of being placed in a high position in government once they were in control of power.”

Fifteen people were killed during the incident, while 20 were wounded. The reason given for the long period it took to publicize the finding of the investigation was that the individuals that were allegedly involved in the coup attempt were closely entwined within the state’s security apparatus.

“Due to the complex nature of the crime committed in June, five months is a fair time to complete effective investigation and publicize a report,” said Simeneh Kiros, criminal defense lawyer and assistant professor of law at Addis Abeba University. “However, suspects were held in custody for the whole five months while the attorney was investigating the case, which might raise issues of human rights protection of the prisoners.”

While documentation, mobile phones and laptops were taken, eye witnesses were also interviewed during the investigation.

There were 277 people arrested in Bahir Dar, 55 of which will be charged by the Attorney General’s Office. Out of 140 suspects arrested in Addis Abeba, 13 will be taken to court.

Asamenew, one of the high-ranking military officials previously released from prison after nine years for allegedly plotting an earlier coup, was on the run for two days after the incident. He was caught and killed after an exchange of fire with security forces in Zenzelma, a town on the outskirts of Bahir Dar.

“There is relative progress by the government of being accountable to the public in reporting the steps they took to investigate such kind of politicized cases,” said Simeneh.

PUBLISHED ON Nov 16,2019 [ VOL 20 , NO 1020]

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