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EOTC versus a kangaroo board of trustees

By Dilwenberu Nega
Tigrai Online, March 2, 2015

The ongoing legal wrangling between the Claimants, a hastily cobbled together kangaroo board of trustees not duly recognized by the Charity Commission for England and Wales, and the Defendants, the de jure Board of Trustees, is in for the long haul.


When the Claimants, who enjoy political activists’ fulsome backing, realized that the Trustees had challenged the Charity Commission’s decision to grant them the right to take the Trustees to court as an interested party by referring the matter to a Judicial Review, they promptly launched a shock and awe legal attack on the Trustees at the High Court of Justice. The Trustees, represented by a pro bono solicitor - in contrast to the Claimants’ £350 per hour troika of barristers - had only three days to prepare their defense. After four days of what is dubbed by congregants of St Mary of Tsion as “ the David and Goliath fight,” though the judge refused to recognize the Claimants as trustees, and jettison their request for an injunction on countless of congregants, the High Court of Justice did nonetheless grant the Claimants unfettered access to all parts of the church building including to EOTC’s most sacred object of worship, the Holy Tabot, as well as lift an EOTC ban on defrocked former priests to be a celebrant at a church service.

No sooner had the judge passed his verdict than the Defendants started an appeal to the Court of Appeal. Meanwhile the beneficiary of the Church, EOTC’s Holy Synod, has ordered His Grace Archbishop Entos and the Priest-in-Charge, Archimandrite Aba Girma Kebede to never hand in the church keys to the Claimants’ legal team. Meanwhile, the Secretary General of EOTC’s Holy Synod is expected in London soon to defend the church from the same old people who had strangulated to death the Patriarch of Ethiopia before expropriating EOTC’s assets 40 years ago.

Incensed congregants of St Mary of Tsion are expected to be joined by equally incensed EOTC congregants from across the UK at a demonstration outside the Ministry of Justice on Sunday 8 March 2015 between 2:00PM and 5:00PM (102 Petty France, Westminster, London SW1H 9AJ)  According to the steering committee, the purpose of the demonstration is fivefold: “To express solidarity with the Trustees; to express our incensed concern over a Court Order which compromises with the Canon Law of EOTC; to alert the Minister of Justice and the Lord Chancellor that a British common law court has misinterpreted  a crystal clear Trust Deed; to oppose fiercely the impending politicization of the pulpit by the sprinter group and to vehemently oppose the anti-Tigreanism stand of the splinter group.

The Claimants may have won a battle in a court of law, but the win, it must be noted, is a pyrrhic victory. Make no mistake for they have lost credibility in EOTC’s court of public opinion. To view the ongoing dispute as merely a tug of war between either Abba Girma Kebede and defrocked former priest Ato Berhanu Bisrat, or as a war of attrition between congregants whose perfervid desire is for the church to remain a politicking-free zone, and political activists who are hell bent on becoming snake oil merchants for partisan politics in the House of the Lord, would be the worst form of naivety.

Nothing better offers you, the reader, and an irrefutable evidence of the real motives of the Claimants than the video below. Do not get me wrong, for I am not arguing here that the Mamos and Mamitues of the splinter group cannot enjoy their democratic right to oppose EPRDF in the UK. Where I disagree fiercely is their brazen audacity at switching the battleground from Whitehall and Westminster to St Mary of Tsion.


In conclusion, my commiseration goes out to the splinter group for the untimely political death of their pillar of support. Sir Malcolm Refkind, Conservative MP for Kensington, Chairman of the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) and a former dynamic Foreign Secretary, made a representation to the Charity Commission on behalf of an Ethiopian British member of his constituency in which he asked the Commission to give due support to the kangaroo board of trustees. Close on the heels of the High Court of Justice’s verdict, Sir Malcolm Refkind, got suspended from the Conservative Party following the “cash for access controversy”. Rifkind offered to get Chinese businessmen access to British ambassadors for £5,000 to £8,000 per half day’s work. I am in no way suggesting that anything similar had taken place between the kangaroo board of trustees and Rifkind, However, I nonetheless wish to condemn Rifkind’s error of judgment. It must be a self-deprecating irony for Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the Chair of ISC, to make a representation on behalf of a splinter group one of the fuglemen of which is an alleged trainer of terrorist. Many are those who believe Rifkind’s political demise is part and parcel of Our Lady’s ongoing work of sifting the chaff from the wheat.

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