Keystone Cops, Prosecutors and Judges in a Police State
Alemayehu G. Mariam
Dec 18, 2006
Keystone Kops, Prosekutors and Liars in Action in Kangaroo Kourt
The last day of the Kality kangaroo trial was a page straight out of a Keystone Cops movie of the silent movie era in America. Old movie buffs will recall that the Keystone Cops were the laughable guardians of law, order and justice in America. This hopelessly incompetent group of policemen would be called to some part of town to restore law and order. But they could never get to the scene of the crime, or catch the wrongdoers because they were always in a state of collective confusion and bewilderment. They were best at chasing their own tails, tooling down one street and up the other. Along the way, they’d hit fruit stands, popcorn wagons, telephone poles and chicken coops. They could never do anything right, but they provided the townsfolk much laughter and merriment from their slapstick mayhem and buffoonery.
Kamal and his prosecutorial team are Ethiopia’s equivalent of the Keystone Cops and laughable guardians of law, order and justice in the police state that is Ethiopia today. They are laughable not only for their ineptitude and cluelessness about prosecuting a complex politically-driven “criminal” case, but also for their witlessness and shameless audacity in trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the world with their harebrained shenanigans.
Unlike the gags and misadventures of the Keystone Cops (prosecutors), however, there is nothing funny about Kamal’s courtroom capers with perjurers. No doubt, there are a great many Ethiopians inside and outside Ethiopia who find it hard to believe that lying in court and coaching others to lie in court is a crime even in the police state of Ethiopia. After all, they say, one should not be surprised because there is a full-scale cottage industry of perjurers, forgers, fraudsters, extortionists, blackmailers, racketeers and scammers that sustains the Ethiopian judicial system; and everyday, hundreds of innocent Ethiopians are dump-trucked to prison on the basis of fabricated evidence and perjured testimony.
But believe it or not, there really is a law in Ethiopia against lying in court and coaching others to offer perjured testimony. (I mean there is one on paper.) According to the Art. 455 (Provocation and Suborning) of the Ethiopian Criminal Code:
(2) Whoever, by violence, intimidation or by promising or offering or giving undue advantage causes another to make false accusation or give false testimony or obstructs, through interference, the giving of testimony or the production of evidence in relation to a crime punishable with rigorous imprisonment for more than two years or obstructs law enforcement officials or public servants while exercising their official
duties in relation to the same crime, is punishable with rigorous imprisonment not exceeding seven years. (Emphasis added.)
That’s right! 7 years in the Big House for causing a witness to lie in court.
Now, let see: For suborning perjury on the last day of the prosecution’s case alone, Kamal should be charged with seven counts of violation of Art. 455. A pretty easy case to prosecute, I should think. As prosecutors sometime taunt defense lawyers when they have an airtight case against the defendant, “it’s a slam dunk!”
OK. Time for Kamal to start thinking seriously about a plea bargain. Let’s see: If he pleads to 7 counts of subornation of perjury, that would earn him 49 years, 7 years per each count, if run consecutively. With good time/work time, he should be out in about 15-19 years. Naah! Too severe, you think?
Let’s run the sentence for all seven counts concurrently, and go for the max of 7 years, straight time (no parole, no probation). Drop all other possible counts such as conspiracy to suborn perjury, obstruction of justice, fabricating and doctoring evidence, etc. Oh, yes, throw in permanent disbarment from the practice of law once he serves out his sentence.
This is a fair deal, Kamal. You’re good for it! Take it or… your looking at 3- 49 years.
Will prosecutor Shimeles Kemal please stand up and indict (charge) himself on seven counts of subornation of perjury?
Wouldn’t it be nice to see a real criminal go to jail?
Hold your horses, now! Don’t get excited. It will never happen! Like I said perjury is the hard currency of the Ethiopian judicial system; and it is dyed into the fabric of the entire police state. A perjury prosecution in this case comes with an inconvenient truth: If you indict (charge) Kamal, then you’d have to indict all of the criminals who instigated and authorized this entire “prosecution” (or at least name them as unindicted co-conspirators). How likely is that?
But there is something truly comical about this Keystone judicial system. They can’t even catch and prosecute a criminal who committed crimes of subornation of perjury right there in the courtroom, in daylight, in plain sight of the judges, bailiffs, court reporters and shocked international observers. So, Kamal will get away, for now. But in a real justice system, not only would he have been prosecuted and disgraced from the legal profession for gross unethical and criminal misconduct, he’d be eating some serious jail time. Like I said, in a real justice system!