Radar | Jan 26,2019
The Federal High Court fifth division corruption bench has granted bail for the amount of 80,000 Br to Mulugeta Tesfakiros, a businessman behind several companies under Muller Industries, including Muller Real Estate and Lagano Bekele Molla Hotel.
The Federal Attorney-General instituted two charges against Mulugeta in mid-February 2021.
The first charge accused Mulugeta of the illegal holding of land for real estate development. The land granted legally for the real estate development was 50,000sqm located in Nifas Silk Lafto District. Later, the accused allegedly conspired with Meskerem Asefa, a government official, to illegally seize land of the same size in Bole District, and acquired title deed.
The second charge reads that the accused had illegally obtained and fenced an 11,000sqm plot of land using the legally obtained leased lands of 990sqm and 960sqm located around the Iranian Embassy in Sarbet Gabriel as a cover.
The land in dispute was government property valued at an average bidding price of 47.2 million Br.
The Federal High Court, after weighing the evidence presented by the prosecutors, ruled that Mulugeta should present his defence against the charges. In addition, the Court deemed the second charge implausible as the lease law the case was brought under was not applicable during the time when the lease contract was signed.
Based on the decision of the court, Mulugeta's lawyers pleaded with the court for the right to bail, citing the first charge alone cannot be sufficient to deny bail rights.
Following that, the prosecutors stated that they were not against granting bail but asked the Court to place restrictions to bar the accused from leaving the country, factoring in that he is an American citizen.
Mulugeta presented his case stating his work, family life and medical follow up should be taken into consideration and he should be granted the right to movement. The court ruled in favour of the defendant and allowed for the bailout of Mulugeta without any restrictions.
Mulugeta had been imprisoned on the basis of prior charges pressed against him. He was accused of covertly funding the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the Oromo Liberation Front-Shene in November 2020. He was brought to the Criminal Bench, which granted him bail of 100,000 Br. The police then appealed to the court presenting an array of other charges including improper use of credit and land. In accordance, even though he had been granted bail, he remained under arrest.
The second charge pressed was for a creditor misuse that Mulugeta was accused of. The defendant allegedly took out a loan amounting to 292 million Br from the Bank of Abyssinia against Meklit Building in the Haya Hulet area. The credit contract states that the Bank would cut off the loan and seize the collateral if the loan was used for purposes other than the one initially agreed upon. However, the Bank argued that there is no legal basis for the prosecutor to institute a criminal case while it had not issued any kind of complaint.
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