Ethiopia: Sudanese man faces jail term for attempt to smuggle $70,000
An Ethiopian court sentenced a Sudanese national to one year in prison for attempting to smuggle US$70,000 through the country’s major airport terminal.
Mutasim Abdulletif was caught last year while attempting to pass customs security check at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, hiding the stated amount of cash in a laptop bag before it was detected by an x-ray machine.
The Ethiopia law prohibits any individual leaving the country with more than US$3,000 unless granted authorisation from the Ethiopian Revenues and Customs Authority (ERCA).
The Federal First Instance Court found the defendant guilty on charges of smuggling foreign currency and sentenced him to serve one-year term of imprisonment. The money was confiscated at the court’s order and he was ordered to pay a US$1,77 fine.
The defendant admitted committing the crime to the court, but pleaded not guilty arguing he was not aware of the law since he came to the country as an investor. However he failed to prove to the court that he registered the foreign exchange up on arrival.
The defendant argued his lack of knowledge of the laws of the country should be taken into consideration.
Through his lawyer, Abdulletif presented a written defence statement in which he said that the money was a payment from Beil Herbert International, a company found in Dubai, as remuneration for the service he rendered and presented a recommendation letter from the company as evidence.
Although the offence he committed was punishable up to five years imprisonment the court has taken considerations of his inadequate knowledge to the laws of the country, his willingness to cooperate with the court and his admission as mitigating circumstances.