Woyanne court frees British teacher convicted of defamation

Elias Kifle | March 7th, 2008

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) – A court on Friday ruled a British teacher need serve no time following her conviction for defamation stemming from comments she made in exposing pedophiles at a children’s charity in Ethiopia.

Swiss charity Terre Des Hommes-Lausanne asked the court not to sentence Jill Campbell because her husband, Gary, had made a public apology last month, said Seleshi Ketsela, a lawyer who represents Campbell in the case.
«The case is closed. … They said one (apology) is enough,» Seleshi told The Associated Press.

«I regret nothing and I apologize for nothing as well because we did nothing wrong,» Jill Campbell told journalists. She had been convicted on Wednesday and had faced up to six months in prison.

Gary Campbell issued a public apology for the comments last month, then said he did so only because nobody would be able to care for the couple’s children if they both went to jail.

Jill Campbell said that she was relieved by the outcome, but was unhappy that the charity had not formally apologized to the victims or financially compensated them.

The couple compiled evidence in 1999 that helped convict the director of an Ethiopian orphanage the Swiss charity used to run. The charity acknowledged the abuse took place, but brought a successful defamation case against the Campbells for their claims that the charity’s senior staff covered up the scandal.

Friday’s court session _ closed to the media _ took only about five minutes. As soon as Campbells emerged from the court there was jubilation from their foreign and Ethiopian friends who had gathered outside the courthouse. A number of them hugged each other on receiving the news of the court’s decision.

The Campbells, who have lived in Ethiopia for more than a decade, have drawn wide support in Ethiopia. A group formed to support them, Stop Institutional Pedophilia in Ethiopia, said the charity is «forcing Gary and Jill to apologize for blowing the whistle and stopping the chain of homosexual abusers victimizing orphans.

The Campbells’ report on sexual abuse prompted the charity to apologize and leave Ethiopia. In 2003, an Ethiopian court sentenced orphanage director David Christie to nine years of hard labor for abusing several young boys.

The report included testimony from several young boys at the orphanage, including one who said he had been at the orphanage run by TdH in the northeastern town of Jari.

«I thought I was lucky to have been chosen to sleep with this man, I was a vulnerable young boy with no knowledge of the world that existed outside Jari,» the boy, who went by the initial G., says in the report. «I trusted white men who had, on the surface, appeared to make Jari a good place to live in.

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