Ethiopia: Three witnesses testify in musician’s trial



Three witnesses testify in musician’s trial

Singer Teddy Afro, who was arrested by the authorities last month for a hit and run accident back in November 2006, appeared in court on 21 May 2008. This fifth hearing allowed the prosecution to introduce its key witnesses to the court.

By Tsigue Shiferaw – Freemuse’s reporter in Addis Ababa

Three out of four witnesses came – all police officers who had shown up on the scene of crime at the time. According to them, the victim of the hit and run accident was a man who had been drunk and fell on the road in central Addis. By the time the police officers came, no car was visible.

The three witnesses told the judge yesterday that the victim fell on the road prior to the car accident. The man had been so drunk that he lost balance and fell on the main road where he was lying when he was hit by a car. To avoid hitting the man would have been difficult for the car driver, one witness said.

To complicate matters, two out of the three policemen were unable to express themselves properly in the national language Amharic. It made their testimony hard to understand for the judge, the prosecution, defence and audience. The witnesses came from a region outside the capital, but no translator was available for them.

Other arrests
The next hearing will be on 4 June 2008. In the meantime, four journalists were arrested earlier this month, and were released again a few days later. All four work for a monthly entertainment magazine called Enku. The last issue of their magazine was dedicated to the singer Teddy Afro. However, before being able to sell any copies of the magazine the authorities seized them all.

In addition, a witness reported that a lady was reprimanded by the authorities for wearing a T-shirt with Teddy Afro on it. During the first hearing a few people were arrested for the same reason.

Back in 2005, the singer released Yasterserial – an album tackling religious, political and social issues in Ethiopia. ‘Yasterserial’ is also a song on the album which was banned from the airwaves, owned by the government authorities.

It is nowadays hard for the public not to consider the Teddy Afro case as that of someone framed by the authorities for speaking out. According to observers, it has made this trial a political one.

Teddy Afro



Listen to Teddy Afro’s controversial hit song ‘Yasteseryal’ in this radio report by Banning Eyre, NPR Music:

‘Teddy Afro, the New Reggae God of Ethiopia’


Google News – continously updated:

Search: ‘Teddy Afro’

Committee to Protect Journalists – 5 May 2008:

‘Ethiopian police detain editor, impound magazine over pop icon story’

International Freedom of Expression Exchange, IFEX – 5 May 2008:

‘Magazine issue seized, its editor and others imprisoned’

Addis Journal – 2 May 2008:

‘Teddy Afro fans to face charges’

African Path – 24 April 2008:

‘Ethiopia: Why Teddy Afro and why now?’

Addis Journal – 23 April 2008:

‘Court adjourns Teddy’s hearing’ – 20 April 2008:

‘Ethiopia – Teddy Afro – An Ethiopian Hero & a Prisoner of Conscience’

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