Court Orders Release on Bail for Top Opposition Party Leaders, but Police Delay Release

On the afternoon of Friday, September 8, 2023, six leaders and senior members representing four opposition political parties were presented in a district court at Qedamay Weyane in Mekelle, according to a VOA report. Following their detention on Wednesday and yesterday morning during a demonstration at Romanat Square in the city, their whereabouts remained unknown until their appearance in court this afternoon.

These leaders and senior members include Hayalu Godefay (Chair of the Salsay Weyane Tigray Party), Dejen Mezgebe (Chair of the Tigray Independence Party), Amdom Gebreselassie (Chair of the Arena Tigray for Democracy and Sovereignty Party), Kidane Amene, Kibrom Berhe (both top leadership members of Baytona – National Congress of Great Tigray), and Ablelom Meles (Senior member of the Salsay Weyane Tigray Party).

The Qedamay Weyane Court ordered the police to release them on bail, each set at 10,000 birr. Following the court order, family members of the detainees promptly paid the required bail amount and submitted the necessary bail documents to the police station, expecting their release accordingly.

However, the police station where they were detained instructed them to take the court order to the Tigray Police Commission and have it approved or endorsed by the commission. When they visited the police commission, they were informed that it was already beyond the official opening hours, and therefore, they could not be released at that time, as confirmed by the VOA correspondent in Mekelle. The much-hoped-for release, anticipated by their families and demanded by their supporters, did not materialize.

As the police commission typically does not operate during the weekend, the leaders who were supposed to be released on bail today are expected to remain detained in the police station until Monday.

Police presented the suspects to court late in the afternoon. The court order was followed, and families had to pay the bail amount at a bank before proceeding to the police station. However, by the time they reached the police station and the police commission, it was too late. Observers allege that this was a deliberate act by the police to delay the release of the suspects by creating unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles.

Many are also questioning why a court order needs approval from a Police Commission. Some police members at the Police Commission were seen laughing at the pain of the family members of the detainees, who were unable to take their beloved ones home with them.