Dec 29 , 2018

Judges at the Federal High Court gave prosecutors two-weeks press charges against 11 senior officials from the state military conglomerate Metals & Engineering Corporation (MetEC), who have been detained under suspicion of grand corruption.

During the court session held on Thursday, December 27, 2018, investigators from the Federal Police reported that they have completed their investigations and transferred the cases to federal prosecutors, who are expected to press charges against the suspects in 15 days.

Arrested during the first week of November, the 26 MetEC officials are suspected of grand corruption involving illegal local and international procurements. Police have taken almost two months to finalise the probe requesting three custody extensions from the court.

Tena Kurunde (Brig. Gen) and Hadgu Gebreghiorghis (Birg. Gen), both deputy directors; and, Mulu W. Gebriel (Col.) and Tekeste Hailemariam (Col.), both former deputy directors, are among the suspects.

Azeb Tadesse (Col.), head of corporate marketing; Asmeret Kidane, (Lut. Col), former representative of Gafat Armament Engineering; and Birhan Beyene (Birg. Gen), director of audit and inspection, are included in the suspect list.

The prosecutors' two-page preliminary claim focuses on four procurements, alleging that the suspects caused 826 million Br in losses to the public treasure by illegal procurements of two shipping vessels, the Rivera Hotel, a plastics factory, the Imperial Hotel and raw material.

Eight of the suspects were accused of causing a 545 million Br loss to the public treasury in the illegal procurement of two shipping vessels by MetEC from the Ethiopian Shipping & Logistics Services Enterprise. The prosecutors claim that the suspects obliged the Corporation to procure the vessels leading to the expenditure of additional public funds in expenses including on maintenance and administrative costs.

The acquisition of Rivera Hotel and a plastics factory for 202.8 million Br, without proper procurement procedures, are leveled against one of the suspects by the prosecutors. The purchase of another hotel, Imperial, for 72 million Br is the third count on a third suspect, who is also accused of alleged illegal procurement of the shipping vessels.

Another claim is leveled against an official suspected of improperly ordering raw material for 5.9 million Br.

The two prosecutors - Fetihu Nure and Yosef Samuel - claim that they are organizing charges under three files and requested the court grant additional time to file the charges.

The suspects, most of them joined by their legal representatives and public defenders, appealed for bail, listing their illnesses, which they claim require constant medical attention, and their responsibility for large families.

The three judges of the 10th Criminal Bench, Christian Baylegne, Lemma Tuji and Genanaw Assefa, rejected their bail and granted the requested 15-day extension by prosecutors and adjourned the case to January 13, 2019.

Cases of Kinfe Dagnew (Maj. Gen.), the Corporation's former CEO, and another 15 suspects are still pending, and the suspects are under custody by the police and subject to investigations. Kinfe, who is suspected of 19 different counts, will appear in court this week.

PUBLISHED ON Dec 29,2018 [ VOL 19 , NO 974]

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