Kangaroo court sentences journalists, activists
July 13–The Kangaroo Federal High Court sentenced today Andualem Arage to life in jail and Eskinder Nega to 18 years imprisonment.
The court recently “convicted” 24 of terror and high treason charges. Twelve others were convicted in absentia. Natnael Mekonnen and Wube Roba were also sentenced to 18 years imprisonment. Yohannes Terefe, Yeshewas Yihunalem Mitiku Damte, Andualem Ayalew and Kinfe Michael Bereded received sentences ranging from 13 to 25 years in jail.
One of the three judges, Hussien Yimer, read the sentencing in a packed courtroom in the presence of family and friends of the defendants.
Twelve defendants tried in absentia and sentenced to prison terms. Andargachew Tsige, Dr. Birhanu Nega and journalist Fasil Yenealem were each sentenced to life imprisonment.
Abebe Belew, Abebe Gellaw, Neamin Zeleke Mesfin Aman were given 15 years each. Zelelegn Tsegaselassie, Wube Robe, and Obang Meto were sentenced to 18 years imprisonment. Abiy Teklemariam and Mesfin Negash were given eight years in prison. The court also revoked the civil rights of the accused for five years.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) issued a statement condemning the sentencing. “As Ethiopia hosts the African Union Summit, where regional leaders discuss important security challenges, the Ethiopian government is using the fight against terrorism as a cover to silence peaceful voices of dissent,” said CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita. “This sentence makes clear that Ethiopia’s growth and stability is dependent on an iron fist from a leadership intolerant of critical reporting or journalists seeking public accountability.”