Daniel and Netsanet will be Released – Abugida

March 27th, 2008 Print Print Email Email

Two human rights activists who received a two-and-a-half year jail sentence are expected to walk out of prison proud and victorious on March 29, 2008.

Their defense lawyer, Mengistu Haile Mariam, had confirmed, yesterday that they would be freed quickly.

(more…)

Two human rights activists who received a two-and-a-half year jail sentence are expected to walk out of prison proud and victorious on March 29, 2008.

Their defense lawyer, Mengistu Haile Mariam, had confirmed, yesterday that they would be freed quickly.


“The two activists will be released from prison in three days time because they have already served two-thirds of their sentences,” he told reporters at the court.

Daniel Bekele worked for ActionAid, while Netsanet Demissie worked closely with the global anti-poverty campaigner through his Organization for Social Justice in Ethiopia.

Rights groups have condemned their trial.

The two were the last defendants out of 131 originally charged after demonstrators took to the street to protest polls they said were rigged. A parliamentary inquiry said 199 civilians and police were killed and 30,000 people arrested.

Most of those originally charged were freed earlier in the year after the government published a letter it said opposition leaders had signed admitting their guilt and repenting.

Both the activists sentenced on Wednesday were involved in deploying observers at polling stations in and around the capital Addis Ababa at the time of the election.

In announcing the sentence — considerably less than the 10-year maximum — the court said it had “taken into consideration their efforts to help the 2005 elections are conducted in a fair manner and to help the ongoing process of democracy to succeed”.

ActionAid said it was relieved the men would not face more time in prison but said it would back an appeal against their conviction in an African Union court.

“We are pleased that the court recognized the value and legitimacy of Daniel and Netsanet’s work and upheld their civil rights,” it said in a statement.

“However… there has been a miscarriage of justice and we will therefore support (any) appeal against their conviction.”

The Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP), a campaign grouping several charities that both defendants had worked for, took issue with the court praising their efforts to aid democracy.

The pro government news paper Reporter has written on its Wednesday issue that the activists are going to be released because they have signed admitting their guilt. It is known the government uses this tactic to demoralize the prisoners and discredit their long fight for their freedom.

Comments are closed.