PRISONER OF CONSCIENCE- ERMYAS AMELGA STILL IN PRISON ONE YEAR AFTER BEING ARRESTED AND DENIED BAIL DESPITE ANY EVIDENCE OF COMMITTING A CRIME

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-Background

On January 9, 2019, Federal investigators have arrested Ermyas Amelga, Diaspora returnee and former investment banker, founder of Access Real Estate, Zemen Bank, in connection with an ongoing corruption probe on the former executive of Metals & Engineering Corporation (METEC). Ermyas was arrested on suspicion of transferring the former Imperial Hotel to METEC for 72 million Br, without a proper procurement process. Ermyas appeared before the 10th Criminal Bench of the Federal High Court on Friday, January 11, along with other senior executives of METEC.

-Arrest on False Grounds and Misleading Charges

The facts indicate that Ermyas arrest itself was made on inaccurate premises.  Charges against him claim that government has suffered a loss of 20 million birr (again ignoring accurate purchase and sales price and VAT charges). Also ignoring fact that due to escalating real estate prices, the current value of Imperial Hotel is now estimated to be over 300 million birr.

In response to the charge that he brought a hotel for 60 million birr and sold it for 72 million birr, resulting in a 20 million birr loss to government, Ermyas has said in court, that there is always this consistent omission of the sales figure breakdown by police/prosecutors to exaggerate the sales price and strengthen the case against him. The difference in sales price is due to VAT and interest payments, for which there is evidence.

Ermyas explained in court, as CEO of Access Real Estate (ARE), he  sold Imperial Hotel, previously purchased from Asfaw Tefera’s family, for 60 million birr (47 million cash and 13 million to cover existing hotel debt)  to METEC, in 2013, for 61.2 million birr (net of VAT). There was also a payment plan included to be implemented over an 18 month period. After including 2.5 million birr in bank interest payments, there is actually a loss of 1.2 million birr to ARE/Ermyas on the sale. Again actual sales price to METEC was 61.2 million, and then 10.8 million was added for VAT, bringing the total sales price to METEC to 72 million birr.

-Ermyas’s Lawyer’s Response

(i)  The charges made against Ermyas are under criminal legislation codes 111 and 112 but they don’t provide the evidence for these charges. There is no reference to the time and place where the alleged crimes took place. There is also no explanation how the alleged crimes directly or indirectly took place took place as required by criminal code 32 (1);

(i) – Ethiopia operates a free market economy. What is the barometer that the Attorney General is using when he is charging Ermyas with selling the hotel at an exorbitant price? One can’t be charged with corruption for selling a property at a higher price than was purchased. The sale was taken in an open and transparent manner. Before the property was fully transferred to ARE, METEC stepped in and purchased it directly from the original owner representative. This means that Ermyas, representing ARE, was removed from this transaction.

(iii) – Knowing that the final sale was between METEC and the original property owner, Asfaw Terefe, the Attorney General should not try and make Ermyas legally accountable for this transaction and cannot cite him as guilty for any crime under legislation they have cited.

(iv) – Since it is not a crime to sell property registered under ones name/company’s name and the Attorney General’s office has no evidence to support the charges they have made, the court should dismiss the charges they made and release Ermyas.

-Denial of Bail

Ermyas’s lawyer has appealed to the Supreme Court for bail rights, only to be told, that the District Attorney A may link the case to possible corruption activities so bail can’t be allowed.

How is it that one of the METEC officials originally part of the group, charges  is quietly acquitted while defendants like, Ermyas, simple business man, arrested without any evidence, cannot even be allowed  bail rights?

UPDATE ON ERMYAS’S CASE

-Regression of the Judicial Process

On December 27, 2019. Ermyas and lawyer appeared in court, nearly a year after being in jail. The court, in July had asked for almost 3 months to deliberate and provided a verdict on Tikemt (October) 20. Since then they asked for two extensions, on December 27, when they had promised to make a final decision, AGAIN they asked for a month extension, with a list of reports that they needed.

Some of the data relates to, again, the building assessment of Imperial Hotel- (assessment was provided 5-6 months ago). The judges had almost 5 months to raise these questions, why at the time of verdict is this being asked?  It was clear that this information was missing when witness cross examination (in Ermyas case, mostly property valuation experts) was taking place back in July.

In addition, a lot of the additional data they are requesting does not even relate to Ermyas’s case. Given the strategy to annex him to the 10 METEC officials- he will again be dragged along with them…These actions demonstrate a deliberate strategy to drag out the judicial process ensuring Ermyas gets dragged on with the lawsuits against the 10 other defendants.

QUESTIONS THAT NEED AN URGENT RESPONSE

-Why is a simple hotel sale (Actually resulting in a net loss to Access Real Estate) treated as a crime on par with charges leveled at high level METEC officials accused of billion dollar corruption activities, without any evidence?

-Why is Ermyas Amelga still kept in jail, denied bail, one year later, WITH THESE VAGUE, UNSUBSTANTIATED CHARGES?

-Is there a strategy to keep him in jail while the other 10 cases are being processed?

-What is behind this continuing miss-carriage of justice- in this era of democratic reform?

IS UPHOLDING HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM NOT PART OF ETHIOPIA CURRENT REFORM PROGRAM?

JUSTICE DELAYED IS JUSTICE DENIED!

  THIS CASE REPRESENTS A RED FLAG FOR POTENTIAL INVESTORS DIASPORA OR OTHERWISE:

PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK!

WE DEMAND THE IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF ERMYAS AMELGA

THIS STATEMENT IS PREPARED BY SUPPORTERS OF ERMYAS AMELGA

 

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5 comments

  1. 1.To mobilize the unemployed youth to work peacefully, all Ethiopians need to make sure that they are able to live and work in every part of the country without the constant state of emergency martial law rule which currently is estimated to be in effect for over one third of the country, Ermiyas Amelga must be a victim of the state of emergency martial law rule not the civil law rule.

    2. Currently the cost of living and the average income of a person is too far apart it is creating too much uncertainty on how people are expected to make a living.

    3.The previous PM Hailemariam Desalegn and ex President of Oromia Muktar Kedir economic initiative to give Querro plots of farm lands didn’t satisfy the economic demands of Querros, so Oromos question in regards to the economy must be answered separately and urgently to bring peace in the volatile state of Oromia. Answering the Querros Oromos question is vital since same events of dividing huge mechanized development farm lands into small pieces of farm plots to give to the locals is being seen in other parts of the country as well.

    4.Since the country is being a country of numerous committee and councils that only last until they obeyed the politicians leaders, there is no point in organizing this economic council unless it is a publicity stance propoganda attempt to save the image of the EPRDF Prosperity Party sellout economic policy that had been going on for decades with no real reform and raise more funds for Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund EDTF.

    5. Economic Council of Ethiopia cannot go against the United Nations Economic Council for Africa UNECA since the Economic Council of Africa ECA got leverage over Ethiopia with the GERD deal going spiral all across the board.

  2. Ermyas Amelga is a cheat and chronic thief. He started many companies and miserably failed with each one of them. He opened another flashy real estate company called Access Real Estate and embezzled more than 1.4 billion Birr from over 2000 home buyers. Not even one apartment was completed and handed over. These homebuyers are still trying to get their properties after almost 10 years. Yes the building that Ermias sold to METEC was bought by the money he collected from these homebuyers.

    Why are you giving all this attention to this seasoned crook? Go and listen to his victims. Glorifying thugs is probably a norm for people who have no scruples.

  3. Mr. Debretsion

    Ermiyas Amelga was robbed by the EPRDF’s banks, clearly you cann’t expect for him to finish his housing project without getting equity recognition from the banks. Bereket Simon and Abay Tsehaye’s bank crews robbed Ermiyas Amelga’s housing project just as Abay Tsehaye’s crew robbed the sugar projects then Ermiyas was put in prison then kicked out of the country, now when he went back thinking their was reform with the so called political institutional law reform change to claim back what the EPRDF’s banks robbed him so he can finish his housing projects he got put in prison again by EPRDF. Those who need to get their houses should stand by Ermiyas Amelga and get the houses EPRDF confiscated from them. Repatriate the money from Abay Tsehaye and Bereket Simon.

  4. Ermiyas is half Oromo from Wellega whose patriotism was legendary at that time, that much I know. I don’t think money really matters to Ermiyas. My uncle remembers him delivering coffee every week to his business. He also remembers his girl friend who never left the Renault 4 and was always wore black still mourning her dad who was among the ‘sixty’ that were killed by DERG.

    Ermiyas’s dad was a diplomat for most of his career and stationed all over the world until he retired. The dad is named after the ‘horse name’ of the Emperor, TEQIL. But I don’t think the name has anything to do with it because the name AMELGA resonates a warrior who led his entire sect of 7 house many miles away from home only to return with less than half of his troops. And a bullet in his leg which made him limp for the rest of his life.

    But it is true TEQIL, the father, was given a chance to join the famous TMS boarding school and was later picked up to serve his country as a diplomat. As a result Ermiyas grew up in foreign countries and had to learn to read and write Amharic after he moved back to Addis in his teens.

    After a successful studying and working decade and a half in the good old USA, he moved back home again. He had everything in America. A family of his own, a very good job, quality education, money… but one thing was missing: HOME

    He only had a few years of HOME before he was shipped out to the countryside for EDGET-BEHBRET campaign when he was still a teenager. And now as an adult he wanted to give to his country all he got.

    All of his efforts were met with challenges. And he never gave up. There are only a few people like Ermiyas. They just refuse to kneel down. Their patriotism is boundless but they are not necessarily politicians or war heroes. Most of the time, they don’t even want to be known at all.

    JUST READ THE SHORT LIST of the charities the Ethiopian Fund led by prof. Al Mariam posted. Who are those Ethiopians trying to help the disabled, the abused and the very poor who can’t afford the very basic? They don’t want to be famous.

    Once upon a time Ethiopia used to be like that. When the 1973 famine shocked Ethiopians, Paulos Gngno and many others humbled and begged and Ethiopia was crying for Ethiopians. Tilahun Gessesse’s song made school children skip their lunch and the rich gave generously, some truck owners lent their entire fleet for grain delivery and so and so “SIMACHEW ENDITEKES YEMAYFELIGU gave their wedding money to the famine victims in Wollo and Tigray” was very common on the radio.

    And some Ethiopians who left their country around that time, some of them when they were teenagers, came back home, with a containerful of books and armed with their experiences and diplomas from good universities. We praised them at first and when the honeymoon was over we sniffed for some thing bad to crush them with. Even the country’s ‘leader’ would use Ethiopian Herald as a tabloid and accuse one of them of adultery with a famous diplomat.

    Those people whose houses were not delivered on time have their channel and Ethiopia has laws for that. And that has been explained over and over. The modern world works in a different way than most of us think. Money got to go around and not just sit in a safety deposit box. And when you are stopped at one post everything else is affected. Ermiyas didn’t do anything wrong and he didn’t buy any exotic island with the money. It is still there. And if he was not sure he could deliver, he wouldn’t have come back home.

    I don’t think Ermiyas is corrupt or a thief. He is now bitter and he didn’t know what he was getting into in the first place. But he is a fighter like his grandpa Qegnazmach Amelga and one day soon he will come back and do business for Ethiopia now that we are at a different stage in our evolution.

    But again MIKEGNANET has become our second nature as one character from the FIKIR ESKEMEKABIR novel (GUDU KASSA II) nailed it.

  5. Ermiyas is kept in tip top shape in jail, he must be trying to prolong his stay since he got everything he wants including weekly overnight visitors.

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