A refugee from Eritrea was arrested on felony aggravated battery charges in Twin Falls, Idaho on July 28.
Mulugeta Zemu Mana, 32, told the presiding judge at his Twin Falls bond hearing, “The only guilt I have is the day I decided to come to this country.”
His alleged victim is another refugee, Samuel Gebreegziabher. The arresting officer, Dzevad Mustafic, was also a resettled refugee whose country of origin is Bosnia and Herzegovina. Both disagree with Mana’s claim of innocence.
Mana is accused of attacking Samuel Gebreegziabher a little after 4 p.m. Thursday at a home on Third Avenue West, court documents said. Gebreegziabher told police he went to the home and sat down with several others in the front yard.
“When he sat down he recognized one of the individuals sitting on the bench as Mulugeta Z. Mana,” an officer wrote in a sworn affidavit. “Gebreegziabher told me that he and Mr. Mana came over to the United States as refugees about four years ago. Mr. Gebreegziabher also told me that there is no relationship between him and Mr. Mana, and that he only knows him through the refugee program … (and) has not seen Mr. Mana for over three years” …
Gebreegziabher told police that without provocation, Mana picked up a knife and attempted to stab him, court documents said. Gebreegziabher said he was able to grab Mana’s arm and avoid being stabbed in the stomach, but his right palm was cut in the struggle; Gebreegziabher then ran across the street to Washington Street Pawn where he asked the clerk to call 911 …
Mana told police he came back to Twin Falls from Salt Lake City to kill Gebreegziabher and two others.
The court provided a taxpayer-funded interpreter of Tingrinya, his native language, and common in Eritrea and neighboring Ethiopia. Mana told the judge he “didn’t care” if his bond was set as high as $100 million.
The judge obliged and set bond at $100 million.
Mana has a long criminal record since his arrival in the United States, most likely through the College of Southern Idaho’s Refugee Program. The program is a local refugee resettlement agency affiliated with the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants which has brought over a thousand Muslim refugees into this small city of 44,000 since 2011 from Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, and the Sudan.
Mana was arrested in Twin Falls on driving under the influence charges in 2012. Some time before 2015, he moved to Salt Lake City, Utah. In 2015 he was arrested there as well. Mana came back to Twin Falls with revenge on his mind:
“Mana told me that these individuals, including Mr. Gebreegziabher, have ruined his life and now he is homeless with nothing left to lose,” [police officer] Mustafic wrote in his affidavit.
Mana also told Mustafic, “There are two ways to handling your issues in America; one way is through the courts and if that does not work the other options is to handle it yourself.”
Mana was arrested and booked into county jail Thursday, marking the second time he’d been arrested this week. On Wednesday, Mana was charged with trespassing at the Oasis Stop ‘n Go at 1390 Blue Lakes Boulevard North. In that incident, a clerk at the store said Mana came in Monday and “caused a huge scene.” He was banned from the convenience store Monday, so when he returned Tuesday, police arrested him.
At the time of that arrest, Mana told officers he was waiting for a Greyhound bus so he could leave Twin Falls, but that without money for a ticket, he was going to ask the driver for a free ride.
In court on Friday, Mana spoke clear English at times and appeared to understand English, but he requested the help of an interpreter.
“I don’t wish to say anything, because you’ve already charged me and found me guilty, so I don’t have nothing to say,” Mana said in English.