November 5, 2011

Ethiopia: Swedish journalists’ co-accused jailed

Filed under: Azeb Mesfin,Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 11:35 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

The Ethiopian High Court on Friday sentenced two fighters from a rebel group who were arrested alongside two Swedish journalists to 17 years in jail.

Map of Ethiopia
The two fighters of Somali origin are members of the outlawed Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) and were facing terrorism charges together with the journalists.

Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye, the Swedish journalists will be put on their defence when their trial resumes next month.

But the two fighters submitted that they could not defend the charges against them.

“We have decided to sentence the two defendants to 17 years imprisonment each,” the judge Justice Shemsu Sirgaga said.

He said the duo had been given minimal sentences after pleading with the court for leniency.

Abdi Wei Mohamed (30) and Kelif Mohammed, whose age was not given, told the court through their lawyers that they were not educated and had families to take care of.

Mohammed said he had seven children and two wives and that they would be disadvantaged if he was jailed.

Sirgaga said the maximum sentence was 20 years or life imprisonment and death penalty.

The three judges took into consideration the educational background, family status as well as the previous criminal records of the accused.

The two and the Swedish journalists were caught by the Ethiopian army during a battle on the Somali border in July.

Persson and Schibbye pleaded not guilty to charges of terrorism but admitted entering the country illegally.


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