Etenesh Abera/ Addis Standard
Addis Abeba, January 02/2018 – The federal high court 19th and 4th criminal benches here in the capital Addis Abeba have today sentenced a total of nineteen Ethiopians who were accused of terrorism related offenses to jail terms ranging from three years and ten months to 16 years and six months.
All the nineteen defendants were accused of having ties with Patriotic G7, a rebel group designated by the ruling party’s dominated parliament as a terrorist organization.
The Federal high court 19th criminal bench sentenced fourteen individuals under the file name of Getahun Beyene et. al to various terms in jail. Accordingly, the court handed the highest term of 16 years and ten months to Dr. Asnake Abayneh and Alemayehu Negussie, the second and the fifth defendants respectively, while it sentenced Bantewossen Abebe to lowest term of three years and ten months. Others in the same file have also been sentenced to various terms in jail. The first defendant Getahun Beyene and the fourth defendant Brazil Engida were sentenced to nine and 15 years each respectively.
Similarly, The federal high court 4th criminal bench sentenced five individuals in the file name of Yohanes Mengiste et.al from 14 to 15 years in prison. Accordingly, while the second defendant Tsegaye Zeleke was sentenced to 14 years, the remaining defendants: Yohanes Mengiste, Gashaw Mulye, Asmare Giletin, Gshaw Mamuye and Mansiboh Birhanu have all been sentenced to 15 years.
All the five defendants have refused to defend the terrorism charges brought against them and like Getahun Beyene et.at, they were also accused of having links with PG7. In addition, all the five were also accused of traveling to Eritrea to take military training in a camp called Harena, according to the prosecutors charges.
The defendants in both file names were first brought to the federal court between September and October 2016, following the brutal crackdowns against massive anti-government protests in Amhara regional state. As Ethiopia continued reeling from the three years persistent anti-government protests in both Oromia and Amhara regional states, terrorism charges brought against individuals who are accused of participating and leading these protests from the two regions have seen a dramatic uptick (digital illustration).
On November 14, the federal high court 4th criminal bench passed a key ruling in the case against activist Nigist Yirga and five others charged in the same file with terrorism related offenses. According to the ruling, Nigist and the five others with her: Alemneh Wase G. Mariam, Tewdros Telay Kume, Awoke Abate Gebeyehu, Belayneh Alemneh Abeje, & Yared Girma Haile should all begin to defend the terrorism charges brought against them by the federal prosecutors. All the defendants were brought from the Amhara regional state in the wake of the summer 2016 protest.
In March 2016, prosecutors have charged a group of 76 individuals with various articles of Ethiopia’s infamous Anti-Terrorism Proclamation at the federal high court 19th criminal bench. According to the charges under the name of Miftah Sheikh Surur, all the 76 defendants were accused of being members of the “Eritrean based rebel group Patriotic G7,”; they were also accused of participating and/or attempted to participate in several acts of terrorism in western Tigray zone of northern Ethiopia in places including, but not limited to, Metama, and Quwara; as well as in Woredas such as Wolkayit, Tsegede, & upper & lower Armachiho.