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Monday, July 16, 2007

Kangaroo court hands down life sentences to CUD leaders

Check back with ETP for more news throughout the day


- Today's Top HEADLINES
- The spin factor
- Excerpt from today’s U.S. state department briefing
- Picture of the day


The court has also barred the CUD leaders from voting or standing for election in the future

An Ethiopian court has handed down life sentences to all of the main opposition leaders convicted of links to violent election protests in a major trial. Eight of the 38 opposition figures in court were given shorter prison terms. The prosecution had demanded the death penalty for them all.

They refused to recognise the court, saying the trial was political.Their relatives say the detainees have signed a document which could pave the way for their release. High court judge Adil Ahmed also barred the 30 Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) leaders from voting or standing for election.(More...)

The spin factor

ETP - The dubious reporting of Reuters’s Tsegaye Tadesse should no longer be left unchallenged. Ethiopians in the past have been shocked and disappointed repeatedly over the apparent lack of fairness in his reports. We all remember how when government security forces were massacring civilians on the streets of Addis, he chose to act as a government apologist by implicitly blaming the unarmed civilians and the opposition, while the rest of the foreign press (AP, AFP, BBC) based their reports on facts.

And today, when the democratically elected parliamentarians - considered prisoners of conscience by all human rights organizations - were sentenced to life imprisonment; he attempted to put a positive spin on it by unashamedly declaring “Ethiopian opposition leaders escape death sentence”.

Here is what other media outlets had to say:

-Ethiopia slaps life sentences on opposition figures(AFP)
-Life in jail for Ethiopia leaders (BBC)
-Ethiopian Court Sentences 35 to Life (AP)

Click here to make a complaint (won't take more than three minutes; briefly explain what you think about Mr. Tsegaye Tadesse’s reporting and leave your email address)

Note: On its main website, Reuters has changed the title of the article from what it said this morning “Ethiopian opposition leaders escape death sentencetoEthiopian opposition leaders get life sentence”. The article has also been altered significantly. Click here for the previous and here for the updated.

(This is probably directly related to the actions of concerned Ethiopians. Give yourselves a pat on the back!)

Excerpt from today’s U.S. state department briefing


QUESTION: Sean, most of the opposition figures in Ethiopia who have been on trial in connection with this 2005 election violence were sentenced to life imprisonment today. I wonder, have you been following that --

MR. MCCORMACK: Yes, we are following it very closely, Dave, and the only thing I can say is, I understand the Prime Minister either has or is soon going to address the Ethiopian people concerning this case. And while I can't tell you exactly what powers of clemency he himself may possess, we would urge him as well as the Ethiopian Government to exercise powers of clemency in this regard. I understand that these people were sentenced to life imprisonment. As a matter of trying to bring together the Ethiopian people and bring an end to this particular chapter of political turmoil, we would urge the Ethiopian authorities to consider -- strongly consider clemency for these individuals.


-Ex-NSU professor, 34 others sentenced to life in Ethiopian court
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Picture of the day

(Professor Asrat Woldeyes receiving medical treatment in the UK)

Professor Asrat Woldeyes was the first professionally trained Ethiopian surgeon responsible for saving countless lives. After entering the political arena, he was arrested for criticizing the Ethiopian government, falsely accused of planning violent attacks.

Amnesty and other human rights organizations who considered the professor to be a prisoner of conscience appealed on his behalf to no avail. His health deteriorated significantly while in prison and was later released by the authorities only after it was certain he had months to live. Professor Asrat Woldeyes died on May of 1999.

Deja vu: The Ethiopian government via its Kangaroo court has today sentenced – professors, lawyers, and human rights activists – to life imprisonment; a blatant attempt to silence all opposition. We should not forget the lessons from Asrat Woldeyes’s story and must not allow history to repeat itself.

Learn more about the life of Professor Asrat: ASRAT WOLDEYES: AN EXTRAORDARY LIFE