Kangaroo court in Ethiopia sentenced opposition members

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia August 1, 2007 (ENA – state controlled) – The Federal High Court [kangaroo court] has sentenced five leaders and members of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party (Kinijit) from four to 16-year rigorous jail terms.

In its session held here on Wednesday, the Second Criminal Bench of the Court sentenced Lieutenant Girma Amare to 16 year rigorous prison term and other defendants Kidist Bekele and Mebratu Kebede to 15 year-prison term each.

Editor of Addis Zena, Wosen-seged Gebre-kidan and Editor of another tabloid called Hadar, Dawit Kebede received 4- year behind bar each.

The charges in which Lieutenant Girma Amare, Kidist Bekele and Mebratu Kebede were convicted were heavy and they should have been sentenced either to life in prison or death, the Court said.

According to the decision, the convicts incited violence in Kirkos and Addis Ketema sub-cities here in the capital following the May 2005 national election.

Prosecutor witnesses had testified that Lieutenant Girma in particular to have instigated violence and stoned and set ablaze the office of Kebele 13/15, a city bus, government vehicle and a shop while preventing the movement of people.

The Court said Kidist was convicted of supplying petrol for setting ablaze the stated properties while attacking police members and preventing the movement of people.

However, the Court had sentenced the convicts to the stated jail term taking into consideration these attempts had failed to materialize.

The stated editors were convicted of instigating violence claiming that the national election was fraudulent and the incumbent state could not form a government with rigged vote and the public should not accept the outcome of the elections, among others.

Though the convicts were supposed to get up to 10-years in jail each, they were sentenced only to 4-year imprisonment each.

The Court postponed its verdict on other members of the CUD leaderships for August 6, 2007.