Ethiopian court sentenced Swedish journalists to 11 years

Tuesday, 27 December 2011 – The Federal High Court 3rd Criminal Bench of Ethiopia sentenced two Swedish journalists, charged with supporting the terrorist group ONLF and entering the country violating its law, to 11 years rigorous imprisonment each on Tuesday.

The court said reporter Martin Schibbye and photographer Johan Persson have met with ONLF chief in London and went to Kenya after which they entered Ethiopia through Somali region supporting the terrorist group.

The court has considered the request of the defendants’ lawyers to mitigate the verdict explaining they have never been involved in crime before and they have families to assist.

The prosecutor asked the court to decide on the fate of electronic devices found in the hand of the convicts which the court decided to be handed over to the government.

The court said the convicts have the right to appeal against the sentencing.

Meanwhile, the Federal High Court President, Wubishet Shiferaw told ERTA that the court procedure of the two Swedish journalists was inline with the Constitution criminal code of the nation. No rights of the detainees were violated, he added.

He said the journalists have admitted they had entered the country illegally but denied supporting terrorism.

He said unequivocal evidences presented by the prosecutor have enabled the court to decide on the case in a short period of time.

He said there were some who wanted to influence the court procedure just because the convicts were foreigners; however, the court independently decided the case.

The president said the court ruling indicates that there would be no exemption from being accountable for anyone who participates in crime under the disguise of journalism.

Source: Ethiopia Television and Radio Agency (ERTA)

Daniel Berhane

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