Ethiopia parliament decided to get rid of the federal judges
A federal judge, Zerihun Bode, was sacked this week by parliament in a consequence for a ruling he made, sending one of the country’s leading businessman, Getu Gelete, free after facing serious charges.
Federal prosecutors charged Getu, owner of Getu Commercial Center and shareholder of GetAs International Plc, with fraudulent misrepresentation and arbitrary action on July, 2010 following a complaint by Helen Anbesso to the Addis Ababa Police Commission.
The Federal Prosecutor charged the defendant with fraud related to transferring his lease right of 41,930 square meters of land located at Bole Sub City that he obtained for a real estate development project, to Helen Anbesso for 12 million 579 thousand birr.
The prosecutor said Helen began construction and spent around four million birr, and she was prevented from taking her construction materials, worth an estimated 270,000 birr out of the construction site.
Accepting Getu’s lawyer, Million Assefa’s call to drop the charges on the grounds that it was a civil case and not a criminal one, Judge Zerihun Bode threw out the case. It turns out that the Judge was partial to the lawyer Million who is the ruling party’s Member of Parliament.
“The lawyer is prominent in the country,” Zerihun was quoted saying by the Federal Judges Administration Council who investigated a disciplinary misconduct complaint filed by Helen against the judge, after his ruling made before the prosecutor could present its evidence.
The judge rejected any misconduct and said the charges were dropped not only because the circumstances do not entail a criminal liability but because the allegations of the prosecution do not meet the elements of the criminal law provision that they charged the defendant with.
After a thorough investigation including a chance given to judge Zerihun to refute the complaints, the Federal Judges Administration Council members including the Justice Minister Berhan Hailu unanimously decided to fire him for what they call a grave incompetence and partiality he showed while presiding on Getu’s case.