Kenyan journalist Yassin Juma back in Ethiopian court next week

Tuesday August 18 2020

Kenyan journalist Yassin Juma. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

Addis Ababa. Kenyan journalist Yassin Juma, who was arrested in Ethiopia days after the killing of Oromo musician Hachalu Hundessa, is set to appear in court again on July 28.

This is according to Milkyas Bulcha, a lawyer representing Ethiopian journalists who were arrested in the aftermath of Hundessa's murder on June 29.

However, he expressed concern that the Kenyan journalist lacked proper legal representation amid a language barrier as he faces more time behind bars.

The lawyer revealed that Mr Juma was arrested at the home of Jawar Mohammed, founder of the Oromia Media Network (OMN), who is also being held by Ethiopian authorities. 

However, it's not clear why the Kenyan journalist was arrested, but Ethiopian authorities are accusing him of incitement and involvement in a larger plot to trigger violence in the Oromia region, a claim he vehemently denies.

Mr Juma reckons he was only arrested because he was found at Mr Mohammed's home. 


When asked why he was there, he reportedly said that he was doing research for a report for a global human rights organisation.

He's facing the same charges as Mr Mohammed and other politicians arrested at the same time, Mr Bulcha says. These include instigating inter-ethnic violence and causing outrage to the dignity of a dead body. 


"He had no legal representation in court. I was only helping him because he had no one to help him translate," the lawyer said.

He told the court that Mr Juma's involvement in all this is still not clear.

He adds that he has no knowledge of any efforts by the Kenyan Embassy to get him his own legal representation.

The Kenyan journalist is among thousands arrested after unrest rocked the country following Hundessa's murder.

The week of protests saw at least 239 people dead and about 3,500 arrested.

The government has pointed the accusing finger at Egypt, claiming the country's motive was to stop Ethiopia from continuing with the Grand Renaissance Dam project, set to be Africa's largest.

The Ethiopian government also pointed out that the unrest took place while United Nations-backed talks between the three countries were ongoing, and has hinted at the use of mercenaries to incite violence but did not offer proof of this.