Ethiopia Convicts 24 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.
He was arrested last year after publishing articles asking whether the Arab Spring uprisings could have an influence in Ethiopia and questioning the arrests of Ethiopians under the country’s anti-terrorism law.
Five of the defendants, including Eskinder and Andualem, will reappear in court on July 13 to present their mitigating circumstances.BBC