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Ethiopia election protesters challenge court jurisdiction

[JURIST] A group of Ethiopian opposition members charged with treason, inciting violence and genocide appeared in court Wednesday, challenging the court's authority to hear their case, but Federal Court Judge Adil Ahmed ordered the case to proceed after denying the defendants bail. 131 opposition politicians, reporters, and aid workers were arrested after street protests in July and November over parliamentary elections left 82 dead. The riots erupted during a protest against ballot fraud, organized by the Coalition of Unity and Democracy (CUD) [official website], Ethiopia's largest opposition party. CUD claims that the Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front rigged the vote and intimidated witnesses, a claim supported [JURIST report] by the European Union Election Observation Mission to Ethiopia 2005 [official website]. The opposition members have also been barred from meeting with their defense lawyers [JURIST report] and appeared without them in court. Under Ethiopian law, the sentence for the charge of treason is the death penalty. Adil adjourned the case until February 23 and ordered that defense lawyers be provided to those who could not afford them. Reuters has more.

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