Zelalem was found guilty- to be sentenced in the next hearing!
Ethiopian regime’s Lideta High Court has today gave a verdict saying that our co-blogger Zelalem Workagegnehu is guilty of violating the government’s 2009 Anti-Terror Proclamation Article 7/1. His two colleagues, Yonatan Wolde and Bahiru Degu, charged under the same proclamation and also for applying for a digital security training, have been found innocent. Two other defendants, Tesfaye Teferi and Solomon Girma, with no links to Zelalem but lumped up under his file, have also been found guilty of violating the same article.
The verdict took three hours. The next appointment is on Tuesday, April 26th 2016 to hear the prosecutor’s version on how Zelalem should be sentenced. The judges also asked Zelalem to submit a statement to the Court outlining why he should be given a shorter sentence. He is set to present it after hearing the prosecutor’s version.
Bahiru Degu has been acquitted today.
Yonatan Wolde has been acquitted today!
Under Article 7/1 of Ethiopia’s Anti-Terror Proclamation, which relates to recruitment of members, those guilty could be “punished with rigorous imprisonment from 5 to 10 years.”
In this very unclear and faulty verdict hearing, mixed emotions were seen in the court room full of relatives, diplomats and journalists.
Although many were delighted about the acquittal of Yonatan and Bahiru, it has also outraged many that it takes the Ethiopian regime over 647 days of arrest and torture to say applying for a digital security training was not a crime.
It is also dubiously unclear how defendants charged under the same article and case could be treated differently i.e acquitting some while convicting others.
The US State Department’s Human Rights Report for 2015, out yesterday mentioning the case of the trio said:
In July 2014 police detained 10 individuals including opposition party leaders and others in Addis Ababa and the northern city of Mekelle in separate operations. Police reportedly did not bring Habtamu Ayalew, Daniel Shibeshi, Yeshiwas Assefa, Abraha Desta, Abraha Solomon, Solomon Girma, Tesfaye Teferi, Zelalem Workagegnehu, Yonathan Wolde, and Bahiru Degu before a judge within 48 hours of their detention, as required by law. On August 20, the Federal High Court acquitted Habtamu Ayalew, Abraha Solomon, Daniel Shibeshi, Abraha Desta, and Yeshiwas Assefa of terrorism charges (article 4) due to lack of evidence. The same court reduced charges against Solomon Girma and Tesfaye Teferi to criminal code charges and the charges against Zelalem Workagegnehu, Yonathan Wolde, and Bahiru Degu from article 4 to article 7 of the ATP. The new charges carry lesser sentences.
– See more at: http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/#wrapper
Accordingly, Bahiru Degu and Yonatan Wolde, will walk free in the next few days, unless and otherwise the unpredictable state apparatus responsible for this does anything negative to this effect.
Zelalem Workagenehu, co-blogger of De Birhan Blog, was initially charged in October 2014 with being the local leader of Ginbot 7 opposition Movement, conspiring violent revolution with his friends (such as this writer), writing and sending reports that appeared on Diaspora based websites such as this article he wrote in 2011 using his pen name, receiving money from abroad to recruit members for Ginbot 7, and facilitating asocial media and communication related training course with his friends.
However, the court dropped most of the charges and now he is defending two charges, which are receiving money (10, 000 birr) from abroad to recruit members for the opposition Ginbot 7 and facilitating the social media training.
Yonatan and Bahiru are charged with applying for the digital security course, which is framed as “a course to terrorize Ethiopia” by government prosecutors. Now that has been dropped, they are acquitted today and will be released soon.
De Birhan’s Note: We are outraged! The verdict today is a verdict on our, our friends and on the convicters’ fate!