The arrest of Bereket Simon is illegal: Here is why

Amhara region’s special force captured Bereket Simon in his house in Addis Ababa on Wednesday morning and took him to Bahir Dar later that day, according to the news on state-media. (Some sources say he was detained the previous evening, but that doesn’t matter much).

He appeared in Amhara region court today (Friday). The court remanded him to police custody for ?? days, rejecting Bereket’s request to transfer to be tried in Addis Ababa.

According to state-media, Bereket requested to be tried in Addis Ababa due to health and family reasons.

But Bereket could have challenged the legal mandate of the regional anti-corruption agency and the regional court to investigate and prosecute him on corruption allegations. 

Here is why!

1) Amahara region has no prosecutorial power on grand corruption.

According to Proc. 433/2005 (the Revised Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission establishment proclamation as amended by Proc. 883/2015), the power of prosecuting a grand corruption offence is the power of the federal anti-corruption commission (now, the federal Attorney General). The later could delegate to regions its prosecutorial powers only in cases other than grand corruption.

If Bereket is suspected of grand corruption, then there is no way Amhara region could prosecute him.

2) Amhara region’s investigation has been illegal.

Amhara region could conduct corruption investigations and then transfer the file to the federal attorney general when it receives credible allegations. But, even in such cases, Amhara region shall immediately notify the federal attorney general about the investigation, according to Proc. 433/2005.

Amhara region’s Anti-corruption commission said on Wednesday on Amhara tv, the investigation on Bereket has been ongoing for several months. On the other hand, the Public Relations director of the federal Attorney General, Zenabu Tunu, told Sheger radio on Wednesday that the Office of the federal Attorney General “has no knowledge of the matter”. This means Amhara region didn’t notify the federal Attorney General about its investigation and didn’t obtain approval.

Thus, the investigation process by Amhara region, by extension the arrest, is illegal.

3) Tiret and its subsidiaries were not Amhara region’s public enterprises when Bereket was Board Chairperson.

Until mid-2018, Tiret Corporate was an endowment and its subsidiaries (companies) were PLCs and share companies. Bereket left the Board chairmanship in early 2018.

Amhara region’s ruling party made a political decision to make Tiret a regional public enterprise in mid-2018. We don’t know if that decision was implemented to date.

At any rate, Bereket was a Board Chair of an endowment and private companies. Legally speaking, he was not appointed by ADP (ANDM) or by Amhara region.

Therefore, Amhara region can not claim Bereket was an official of a regional public enterprise and can not claim to have any prosecutorial power on that ground.

4) Even the federal Attorney General might not have the legal mandate.

Mismanagement of ‘public organizations’ (includes CSOs, Endowments, Companies) was designated as a corruption in 2015. It was Proclamation 883/2015 that empowered the anti-corruption commission (now the federal Attorney General) the power to investigate and prosecute officials of public organizations.

Therefore, Bereket could be charged of corruption with regard to Tiret (an endowment) or its subsidiaries (PLCs and Share Companies) if only the offence was committed after 2015.

For example, the sale of the shares of Dashen company (which the Amhara region anti-corruption commission mentioned in its press conference as one of the allegations) was conducted in 2012-2013. Therefore, it can not be prosecuted as corruption.

The arguments listed above also apply to Taddese Kassa (‘Tinkeshu’) who served as CEO of Tiret corporate until early 2018 and captured in his house in Addis Ababa on Monday by Amhara region special police. He was presented to court today along with Bereket Simon.

It is worth noting that today one of the judges took at least two photos of Bereket and Taddese during the court proceeding and had it disseminated in the social media. Ethiopian courts do not normally allow camera and recordings into courtrooms and never had a judge been engaged in such extremely biased and trivial activity in the history of Ethiopian courts.

Bottom line: It is apparent that the whole episode is a political circus than a genuine legal process. Therefore, it would be appropriate to call the detention of Bereket Simon and Taddese Kassa an abduction and the court proceeding a sham trial.


View Comments (5)

  • Daniel, two questions:
    1. In number 1 above, you said "According to Proc. 433/2005 (the Revised Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission establishment proclamation as amended by Proc. 883/2015), the power of prosecuting a grand corruption offence is the power of the federal anti-corruption commission (now, the federal Attorney General). The later could delegate to regions its prosecutorial powers only in cases other than grand corruption." So, by implication, you are saying "The power to prosecute Bereket belongs to the Federal Attorney General"
    Then in number 4, you said "even the federal attorney general might not have the legal mandate." So, the two statements contradict each other. How can you reconcile these?

    2. Where in the Proc.433/2005 does it blindly say "The power of prosecuting a grand corruption offence is the power of the Federal Anti-Corruption Commission"? Sub-Ariticle (3) & (4) of Article 7 of the Proclamation that defines the powers and duties of the commission state the following:
    "3.To investigate or cause the investigation of any complaints of alleged or suspected
    serious breaches of the codes of ethics in Public Offices or Public Enterprises; and
    follow up the taking of proper measures;
    "4.To investigate and prosecute or cause the investigation and the prosecution of any
    alleged or suspected corruption offences specified in the criminal code or in other
    laws where they are committed by Public Officials or Public Employees or other
    persons in Public Offices or Public Enterprises, or in the Regional offices relating
    to subsidies granted by the Federal Government to the Regions"

    So, the power of the Commission is to investigate corruption offices committed ( by Public Officials/Employees/other persons) IN PUBLIC OFFICES OR PUBLIC ENTERPRISES.

    MY QUESTION IS: How does the following definitions of Public Enterprises and Public Offices clearly defined in the Proclamation apply to Tiret Corporate? Yes, Bereket was Public Official but the crime is alleged to be committed IN TIRET CORPORATE.

    "Public Office" means any office of the Federal Government the budget of which is
    fully or partially allocated by the Government and in which any government
    activity is performed;
    "Public Enterprise" means any Federal Public Enterprise or Share Company the
    ownership of which is fully or partly owned by the Government.
    "Public Official" means members of the House of People's Representatives and of
    the House of the Federation, officials of the Federal Government above ministerial
    rank, ministers, state ministers, vice ministers, commissioners, vice commissioners,
    judges of the Federal Supreme Court, members of Regional State Councils,
    officials of the Regional State above the Regional State bureau heads, Regional
    State Bureau heads, judges of the Regional State Supreme Court, Council members
    of the Addis Ababa City Administration and the Dire Dawa Administrative
    Council, officials of the Administration above Bureau heads, Bureau heads and
    such other officials of the Federal, Regional, Addis Ababa City Administration and
    Dire Dawa Administrative Council of equivalent rank.
    "Public Employee" means all persons, other than those referred to under sub-article
    5 hereof, who are appointed, assigned, employed or elected and working in a public
    office or a public enterprise of the Federal Government, Regional State, Addis
    Ababa city Administration or Dire Dawa Administrative council.

  • We not got till now on him enough reason unless kidnapping.እስካሁን ድረስ በኣቶ በረከት ስምዖን ላይ አፈና ካልሆነ በስተቀር በቂ ምክንያት ያለገኘን ስሆን ጥረት የተባለዉም ድርጅት ጉዳይ ምንም ምክንያት ሆኖ ኣለገኘንም፡፡
    ያሰረዉ አከል ምለሽ እንድሰጥበት ጥሪ ማድራገችን ይታዋሰል፡፡

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