Ethiopia court finds 24 guilty of terrorism

Twenty-four Ethiopians, including a leading opposition figure and a prominent journalist, faced life in prison Wednesday after a court found them guilty on charges of terrorism.

"Guilty as charged," judge Endeshaw Adane said, referring to journalist Eskinder Nega, opposition member Andualem Arage and 22 others accused of links to US-based group Ginbot 7, considered a terrorist group under Ethiopian law, and other outlawed groups.

Under the anti-terrorism legislation, the defendants face the death sentence, but the prosecutor recommended life sentences for the 24, only eight of whom were present in court.

Both Eskinder and Andualem were found guilty of "participation in a terrorist organisation" and "planning, preparation, conspiracy, incitement and attempt of (a) terrorist act."

Andualem was also found guilty of serving as a "leader or decision maker of a terrorist organisation." Another less prominent opposition member was also among the group convicted Wednesday.

Endeshaw said Eskinder abused his freedom of speech and accused him of threatening national security.

"Freedom of speech can be limited when it used to undermine security and not used for the public interest," he said.

Both Eskinder and Andualem are accused of using examples of Arab Spring uprisings in the media to promote anti-government protest in Ethiopia.

"There is no way other than democratic elections to attain power in the country, and what they said is clearly against the constitution," Endeshaw said.

"By using the freedom of speech recognized in the constitution these criminals have been trying to destabilize the country... that is why the court should give a grave sentence," the prosecutor said.

Five of the defendants, including Eskinder and Andualem, will reappear in court on July 13 to present their mitigating circumstances.

Rights group Amnesty International condemned the verdict, and said the men were found guilty on "trumped up" charges.

"This is a dark day for justice in Ethiopia, where freedom of expression is being systematically destroyed by a government targeting any dissenting voice," Amnesty's Africa researcher Claire Beston, said in a statement.

Amnesty said the convicted were prisoners of conscience and said "the verdict seemed to be a foregone conclusion." The group called for the immediate release of the prisoners.

Andualem, who appeared in court in a suit and tie, tried to present his own mitigating circumstances to the judges.

"I have struggled for peaceful democracy, and I have never disrespected any individual and I didn't commit a crime. My conscience is clear," he said.

The judge promptly silenced him and said he was not following the court's procedure.

Eskinder insisted he deserved to speak since he is facing a serious sentence.

"You have to stand for justice, you have to allow us to say what we want... you have no right to limit our freedom of speech," he said to the judges.

The courtroom was filled with family members, journalists and diplomats, including US Ambassador Donald Booth.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Volkswagen opens new showroom along Quezon Avenue
    Volkswagen opens new showroom along Quezon Avenue

    Volkswagen opened a new showroom along Quezon Avenue, which is now the automotive row of Northern Metro Manila.At the Innauguration was Chief Operating Adviser Klaus Schadewald, Branch Manager Bob Anthony Palanca, Volkswagen Philippines: President and CEO John Philip Orbeta and General Manager Nemesio Solomon, Jr. This new showroom has the latest Volkswagen Interactive Showroom applications. ... …

  • The Race to Global Greatness - YGP6
    The Race to Global Greatness - YGP6

    Yamaha Motor Philippines (YMPH) recently held the first leg of the Yamaha Grand Prix 6 at the SM Sta. Rosa compound in Laguna. The racing categories for this year are the following: Automatic Inter-Club RaceUnderbone Inter-Club Race115 Superstock ATVega Force i SuperstockSniper 150 Open UB130 Open UBMio 125 MX i …

  • Volkswagen opens new showroom along Quezon AvenueVolkswagen opened a new showroom along Quezon Avenue, …
    Volkswagen opens new showroom along Quezon AvenueVolkswagen opened a new showroom along Quezon Avenue, …

    Volkswagen opened a new showroom along Quezon Avenue, which is now the automotive row of Northern Metro Manila.At the Innauguration was Chief Operating Adviser Klaus Schadewald, Branch Manager Bob Anthony Palanca, Volkswagen Philippines: President and CEO John Philip Orbeta and General Manager Nemesio Solomon, Jr. This new showroom has the latest Volkswagen Interactive Showroom applications. ... …

  • Nissan launches its “Virtual to Reality” GT Academy here in the Philippines
    Nissan launches its “Virtual to Reality” GT Academy here in the Philippines

    The Filipino Gran Turismo gamer just became eligible to become a Pro Race Car driver as Nissan Philippines Inc. launched its GT Academy here in the Philippines. The object is to find the best Grand Turismo players in both the online qualification process and participating in the live events after which they’ll compete with each other in National Finals to see who gets to attend the 3 month Race camp.  The winner gets to stay in the UK near Silverstone and will take part in UK national and club …

  • Osmeña wants electricity exempted from VAT
    Osmeña wants electricity exempted from VAT

    Sen. Sergio Osmeña III wants electricity to be exempted from value added tax under a proposed measure that will amend the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997 and the Reformed VAT Law. He said the move aims to ease the burden of the public in paying high electricity rates in the country. “VAT on electricity is another burden on the already over-taxed shoulders of our people, especially those whose incomes are barely enough to cover their basic needs. Osmeña, chairman of the Senate …

  • No lotto draws starting tomorrow until Easter Sunday
    No lotto draws starting tomorrow until Easter Sunday

    No lotto tickets will be sold and no lotto draws made starting tomorrow, Maundy Thursday, up to Easter Sunday in observance of Holy Week. In a statement, Jose Ferdinand Rojas II, acting Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) chairman and general manager, said the selling of lotto tickets and lotto draws will resume on April 6,  Monday. “We thank all Lotto players for your trust and confidence in the PCSO games, and we count on your continued support of our efforts to raise funds for …

  • Quake rocks C. Visayas
    Quake rocks C. Visayas

    A magnitude-3.2 earthquake rocked parts of Central Visayas yesterday. State seismologists said the quake was an aftershock of a powerful tremor that hit the region in 2013. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said the quake occurred at 7:54 a.m. Its epicenter was located 10 kilometers  southeast of Buenavista, Bohol. Phivolcs director Renato Solidum said the quake was an aftershock of the magnitude-7.2 earthquake that hit Bohol on Oct. 15, 2013. …

  • Super howler nears Phl
    Super howler nears Phl

    A typhoon that has devastated islands in the Pacific is forecast to become a category 5 monster howler as it barrels toward the Philippines this week. The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Maysak will be named Chedeng when it enters the Philippine area of responsibility tonight or tomorrow morning. In an interview, PAGASA weather forecaster Gener Quitlong said the forecast track of Maysak may still change depending on the movement of …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options