Ethiopian Supreme Court reverses acquittal of two Ginbot 7 defendants

Ethiopian Supreme Court reverses acquittal of two Ginbot 7 defendants
Ethiopian Supreme Court reverses acquittal of two Ginbot 7 defendants

Rejects prosecutions’ appeal for more severe penalty on five defendants

By Tamiru Tsige,  Ethiopian Reporter

The Federal Supreme Court passed a life sentence on two defendants charged in the Ginbot 7 case, reversing the decision of the Federal High Court which acquitted the defendants from the prosecutions’ charge. The court also rejected the prosecutions’ appeal for the death penalty on five other defendants.

Federal prosecutors pressed charges of armed rising, outrage against the constitutional order, impairment of the defensive power of the state, material preparation of subversive acts and provocation and intimidation on 47 defendants on June 12, 2009. The Federal High Court, Second Criminal Bench, passed life sentence on 23 defendants and passed the death penalty on Melaku Tefera on December 22, 2009. The court, however, acquitted four defendants – Fanaye Wube (Maj.), Ababu Tefera (Lt.), Getu Wolde and Aragaw Asfaw (Inspector) – from the prosecutions’ charges instituted against them.

Federal prosecutors lodged their appeal to the Federal Supreme Court calling for the death penalty on five defendants, whom they alleged were principal offenders. Prosecutors also appealed the decision of the high court exonerating the four defendants from the prosecutions’ charge.

The Federal Supreme Court, which was convened on Thursday for a final ruling, found Fanaye and Ababu, whose case was tried in absentia, guilty of all of the prosecutions’ charge and sentenced them to life imprisonment. The court affirmed the decision of the lower court which acquitted Aragaw, who was allegedly found in possession of hand grenades inside his residence. The court, however, found Getu guilty of illegal possession of foreign currency and sentenced him to a one- year suspended sentence and a fine of 10,000 birr the next day.

The Federal Supreme Court also rejected the prosecutions’ appeal for the imposition of the death penalty on Tefera Mamo (Bir.Gen.), Asaminew Tsige, Demisew Anteneh (Lt.Col.), Mekonnen Worku (Maj.) and Alehubel Amare (Lt.Col), affirming the decision of the lower court which imposed life sentence against the defendants.

The court, which rejected the prosecutions’ appeal for lack of legal justifications to warrant the death penalty against the five defendants, upheld the death penalty against Melaku, who was pardoned after he was sentenced to life in prison for charges of treason and outrage against the constitutional order in the aftermath of the 2005 elections.

The court, which also ordered the confiscation of the assets of Tefera and Asaminew, rejected the prosecutions’ appeal for the confiscation of the assets of Tsige Habtemariam, another defendant sentenced to life imprisonment.