ADDIS STANDARD STAFF
Eskinder Nega, founder of the opposition Balderas for Genuince Democracy, has expressed his concerns to visiting officials from the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) representatives that the recent physical attack he suffered inside the Kilito prison, where he is currently kept at, was not “a trivial matter.”
A statement by EHRC released last said that the Commission’s officials visited Kilinto federal prison and spoke with Eskinder Nega, and Sintayew Chekol, who is also from the Balderas party, the individual who was in physical confrontation with Eskindir, as well as the prison officials.
Eskinder was arraigned to appear at a federal court in Addis Abeba on Thursday, October 21, but failed to appear due to injuries he suffered after a physical confrontation with another detainee.
The EHRC said that in the morning on October 21, while exercising inside the prison compound, Eskinder and the unnamed prisoner who was once transferred to Kality prison but is now back in Kilinto prison, met and had exchange of words which “turned into a physical confrontation.” As soon as the incident took place, prison guards and other inmates intervened, and the prison administration immediately transferred the unnamed prisoner to another zone.
“The Commission noted that there had been previous disagreements between Eskinder and the detainee, and that the prisoner had recently returned from the Kaliti prison where he had been transferred,” EHRC said.
THE EHRC SAID ESKINDER TOLD THE COMMISSION THAT “HE DID NOT BELIEVE THE INCIDENT WAS A TRIVIAL MATTER AND THAT IT WAS RELATED TO THE CROSS-EXAMINATION AND OTHER ISSUES” HE WAS RAISING IN THE COURT AT HIS ONGOING TRIAL.
Eskinder suffered swelling in his left foot thumb, scratches in in both his knees and an injury to his right eye. The other prisoner was found to have suffered scratches on his right fingers. Both detainees are receiving medical treatment inside the prison’s clinic. “Both detainees stated that they had received appropriate investigation and medical assistance from prison authorities for their injuries, and that they were not interested in pursuing legal course,” about the incident.
However, the EHRC said Eskinder told the Commission that “he did not believe the incident was a trivial matter and that it was related to the cross-examination and other issues” he was raising in the court at his ongoing trial. “He explained that he did not appear in court that day had made a personal decision about the incident and that he was still concerned about his safety.”
On October 20, federal prosecutors presented their list of witnesses at the Federal High Court, Lideta Branch, First Constitutional and Anti-Terrorism Bench after the court decided to proceed with witness hearing in open session. Prosecutors presented the names of nine out 21 witnesses; but only two witnesses attended the first witnesses hearing. The names of the remaining 12 witnesses were not disclosed in the hearing.
The EHRC said in its discussions with senior officials of the prison administration, its representatives discussed the safety of detainees, the prevention of disputes and disputes between detainees, and the need to take immediate action in such events as part of the responsibility of prison administration.