A senior official of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), Addisalem Balema appeared in court on Thursday a few days after being detained amid a month of conflict in the northern Tigray region.
Addisalem Balema, who has served in a number of senior positions in the Tigray region and in the federal government, appeared at the Criminal Bench of the Federal First Instance Arada Court in Addis Ababa.
Addisalem, who was one of the Tigray officials for whom arrest warrants were issued a month ago, has been charged with crimes of “perpetuating a massacre of civilians at Maikadra and onslaught against the Northern Command of the National Defense Force and looting of heavy artilleries of the army”, according to Radio Fana.
Police have also filed a number of charges against Addisalem Balema, alleging that the defendant was “leaking national secrets to alien forces, plotting with an armed group, OLF Shane, and conspiring with Debretsion Gebremichael and his group to dismantle the constitutional order of the country.”
Police told the court that the defendant had approached African Union officials to put pressure on the federal government and met with a Chinese ambassador to try to create a Chinese-TPLF Communist Party.
A judge denied the suspect bail and gave police 14 days further to investigate. The suspect told the court that he had not committed the alleged crimes. “On Monday, I spoke with Debre Tsion Gebremichael to initiate reconciliation with the federal government and I was arrested on Wednesday. I talked to ambassadors and officials about the mediation,” he was quoted as saying.
Top TPLF leadership and rebel military officers remain in hiding while the former speaker of the house of the federation who was also a member of TPLF executive committee Keriya Ibrahim surrendered to federal forces.