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.

  • Billionaire finds wreck of WWII ship in Phl
    Billionaire finds wreck of WWII ship in Phl

    Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen says he has found the Japanese Navy’s biggest warship at the bottom of the sea in the Philippines, 70 years after US forces sank it. Allen posted a photo on Twitter on Tuesday of the World War II battleship Musashi’s rusty bow, which bore the Japanese empire’s Chrysanthemum seal. The American billionaire, who has also pursued space exploration, said his luxury yacht and exploration ship, the M/Y Octopus, found the Musashi one kilometer (1.6 miles) deep on the …

  • US ambassador recovers from knife attack praised by N. Korea
    US ambassador recovers from knife attack praised by N. Korea

    The US ambassador to South Korea, Mark Lippert, was recovering from surgery Thursday after having his face and arm slashed by a knife-wielding activist in an attack applauded by North Korean state media. The United States condemned the "act of violence" which saw the ambassador rushed to hospital where his condition was described as stable after two-and-a-half hours of surgery that included 80 stitches to a deep gash on his right cheek. During the assault, Kim screamed a slogan in favour of …

  • New Moro rebel group emerges
    New Moro rebel group emerges

    A radical Muslim cleric trained in the Middle East and considered one of the leaders of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) has broken away from the terror group to form his own band of jihadists who are now reportedly providing sanctuary to bomb expert Basit Usman and at least five foreign militants, the military said yesterday. Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla, citing reports from the field, said the Justice for Islamic Movement (JIM) was …

  • Miriam bucks house arrest for Enrile
    Miriam bucks house arrest for Enrile

    Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago believes granting Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile house arrest, while former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo remains under hospital detention, will violate the equal protection clause of the Constitution. “That’s already a violation of the equal protection of the law,” she said. …

  • World's oldest person wonders about secret to longevity too
    World's oldest person wonders about secret to longevity too

    TOKYO (AP) — The world's oldest person says 117 years doesn't seem like such a long time. …

  • Ohio mom, boyfriend guilty; child emailed teacher for help

    PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (AP) — A woman and her boyfriend pleaded guilty to raping her young children and were sentenced to prison on Wednesday, a year after one of her daughters emailed a teacher for help and said she and her siblings were being chained to their beds, deprived of food and sexually assaulted. …

  • 8 of 10 cities most at risk from natural disasters located in Phl – study
    8 of 10 cities most at risk from natural disasters located in Phl – study

    Eight of 10 world cities most exposed to natural hazards are in the Philippines and more than half of the 100 cities most exposed to earthquakes, storms and other disasters are in four Asian nations, according to a research. The study, published on Wednesday by risk analysis firm Verisk Maplecroft, analyzed the threat posed by storms, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, fires, volcanoes and landslides in more than 1,300 cities. The study found that the 10 cities most at risk are Port Vila in …

  • Ex-crew recognizes photos of sunken Japanese battleship
    Ex-crew recognizes photos of sunken Japanese battleship

    TOKYO (AP) — A former crewmember on a Japanese battleship that sank during World War II said Thursday he recognized photos of wreckage discovered this week off the Philippines by a team led by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options