Posted on August 3, 2009 by connectafrica
A Canadian citizen has been jailed for life after being convicted of terrorism charges in an Ethiopian court.
Judges found Ethiopian-born Bashir Makhtal was a member of a separatist group fighting for independence for an ethnically Somali part of the country.
Prosecutors had wanted him executed, but the judges decided against it.
Rights groups say the prosecution failed to produce any credible witnesses and Bashir’s lawyers say he will appeal against the conviction.
The Ethiopian government has denied the trial was unfair.
Bashir had repeatedly denied being the leader of the separatist Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), saying he was being persecuted because his grandfather had helped found the rebel group decades ago.
He was among dozens of people arrested when Ethiopia invaded Somalia in 2006.
Bashir’s family in Canada say he was held in solitary for nearly two years with no access to lawyers or embassy officials.
His relatives say he was a businessman, trading in second-hand clothes and was in Mogadishu on a business trip when the Ethiopians invaded.
But the Addis Ababa court found him guilty of four charges:
• that he was a member of the ONLF central committee between 1999 and 2006
• that he recruited and trained ONLF members at a military camp in Eritrea
• that he led a contingent of the ONLF in the field against the Ethiopian army in Ethiopia’s Somali region
• that he collaborated with Somalia’s Union of Islamic Courts in Eritrea in an effort to overthrow the Ethiopian government
The ONLF, founded in 1984, is fighting for the Somali-speaking population in Ethiopia’s oil-rich Ogaden region, saying it has been marginalised by Addis Ababa.
Reports say Bashir left Ethiopia aged 11 and does not speak the local Amharic language.
The 40-year-old, who has a Canadian passport, was arrested crossing the border between Somalia and Kenya.
His family say he was trying to get away from the fighting.
Other foreigners detained in 2006 – among them Swedes, Americans and Kenyans – were questioned and eventually released into the custody of their own governments.
SOURCED FROM BBC
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tagged: BASHIR MAKHTAL, CANADIAN JAILED IN ETHIOPIA, ETHIOPIA, SOMALI INSURGENCY | 1 Comment »
Posted on June 30, 2009 by connectafrica
Somalia’s Islamist rebels threatened on Tuesday to attack Ethiopia after repeated witness reports that Ethiopian troops were back in the chaotic Horn of Africa country they withdrew from in January. Ethiopian troops invaded Somalia in 2006 to oust an Islamist movement from the capital in which new President Sheik Sharif Ahmed played a role. That sparked an Islamist insurgency which is still raging despite their withdrawal.
“I’m telling the people that it’s time we attacked Ethiopia, who are our Christian neighbours,” Sheikh Abdiqani Mohamed Yusuf said on a radio station controlled by the al Shabaab rebels in the southern port of Kismayu. “We have to invade their country, like they did to our country. This is our best chance,” he said. “The people should be ready to take part in jihad.”
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said last week possible suicide attacks in Ethiopia by Somali Islamist rebels were a threat he “didn’t expect to go away any time soon”. Witnesses have said heavily armed columns of Ethiopian troops have crossed the border and are in several parts of Somalia. The Ethiopian government has repeatedly denied that.
President Ahmed, a moderate Islamist, fled into exile after the Ethiopian intervention but joined a peace process last year and was elected in January. His government is battling hardline insurgents who were once allies in the Islamist movement.
SOURCED FROM REUTERS
Filed under: AFRICAN CRIME AND JUSTICE, AFRICAN NEWS, AFRICAN POLITICS, SOMALIA | Tagged: AFRICAN CRIME AND JUSTICE, AFRICAN NEWS, ETHIOPIA, SOMALIA | Leave a Comment »
Posted on June 13, 2009 by connectafrica
Ethiopia denied on Saturday it had sent soldiers into Somalia, a day after residents reported seeing heavily armed troops from the neighbouring Horn of Africa nation in at least two different regions. Ethiopia’s head of government information, Bereket Simon, told reporters the reports were being fabricated by Islamist rebels to try and muster popular support for their battle to topple the government of President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed.
“Ethiopia is defending its border. We have no intention of going back into Somalia. When we decide to enter Somalia we will tell the world that we have decided to enter based on our national interest,” he said. Ethiopian troops invaded Somalia in late 2006 to oust an Islamist movement from the capital in which Ahmed played a leading role. He fled into exile but joined a peace process last year and was elected in January.
Addis Ababa has said it supports the new government, but is wary of the hardline Islamists, who have links to al Qaeda, because they control large areas of Somalia and have threatened to destabilise Ethiopia and Kenya. “We think the reason (for the reports) is that the extremists are losing ground and feel they can mobilise people by presenting Ethiopian interventions to the public,” he said. “That is why they are building these accusations as a scarecrow to get support.”
SOURCED FROM REUTERS
Filed under: AFRICAN CRIME AND JUSTICE, AFRICAN NEWS, AFRICAN POLITICS, SOMALIA | Tagged: AFRICAN CRIME AND JUSTICE, AFRICAN NEWS, AFRICAN POLITICS, ETHIOPIA, SOMALIA | Leave a Comment »
Posted on May 5, 2009 by connectafrica
An Ethiopian opposition leader said on Tuesday an anti-government plot had been invented as an excuse to arrest potential candidates ahead of national elections next year. “Without third party verification I can’t believe there was a plot,” Bulcha Demeksa, leader of one of the largest opposition parties, the Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement, told Reuters.
“This government is just looking for an excuse to imprison potential politicians.” Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s government said last month a group led by an Ethiopian-American professor had planned to use assassinations and bombings to provoke street protests and topple the government.
Addis Ababa arrested 40 former and current army personnel and members of a disbanded opposition group from a “terror network” it said was formed by Berhanu Nega, an opposition leader now teaching economics in the United States.
The Bucknell University lecturer, who has publicly said he wants to overthrow the Ethiopian government, has called the accusations “baseless”. “When Berhanu says he wants to overthrow the government, it is just words,” said Bulcha. “He couldn’t have organised these people from the U.S.”
SOURCED FROM REUTERS
Filed under: AFRICAN CRIME AND JUSTICE, AFRICAN NEWS, AFRICAN POLITICS | Tagged: AFRICAN CRIME AND JUSTICE, AFRICAN NEWS, AFRICAN POLITICS, EAST AFRICA, EAST AFRICAN NEWS, ETHIOPIA | Leave a Comment »
Posted on April 29, 2009 by connectafrica
Health officials from seven African countries are discussing a response to swine flu at a conference in Ethiopia, organisers said on Wednesday. The conference, involving Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania, was planned six months ago to talk about Africa’s poor response to pandemics.
“It’s really fortuitous that this is going on in the context of an international emergency,” Gregory Pappas, pandemic coordinator for U.S. charity Interaction, told Reuters. “Most African countries haven’t done extensive planning, and this meeting is about helping those countries.”
No cases have been reported on the continent. Germany and Austria became the eighth and ninth countries to confirm cases of the virus on Wednesday and the United States reported the first death outside Mexico.
Health experts have expressed concern about sub-Saharan Africa’s capacity to deal with a pandemic, given the poor state of health infrastructure on the world’s neediest continent. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appealed for assistance for poorer countries vulnerable to the crisis which may need drugs, diagnostic tools and other help.
SOURCED FROM REUTERS
Filed under: AFRICAN HEALTH, AFRICAN NEWS | Tagged: AFRICAN HEALTH, AFRICAN NEWS, ETHIOPIA, SWINE FLU | Leave a Comment »
Posted on January 8, 2009 by connectafrica
A crackdown has been launched in the Ethiopian capital on unlicensed parlours where boys and young men chew khat, a narcotic green leaf.Addis Ababa city council has ordered raids on the backrooms where people also smoke shisha pipes and gamble.
Although khat is not banned, officials say boys skip school and steal to fund their pleasures in the parlours.
Other illegal activities such as trading stolen mobile phones are also reported to take place in khat dens.
The mild narcotic – which can cause users to experience excitement, euphoria and loss of appetite – is popular in parts of East Africa, especially Somalia, and Yemen.
During the clampdown in Addis Ababa, where the cheap narcotic has recently become popular with the young jobless, the BBC’s Elizabeth Blunt saw shisha pipes being smashed, while playing cards and khat were burned.
Police have been slapping notices on the doors of unlicensed khat parlours, although the leaf is still openly sold on the streets.
The police have no way of stopping people sitting by the side of the road and chewing the drug.
Addis Ababa city council’s head of justice and legal affairs Tsegaye HaileMariam made it fairly clear to our correspondent that he wished khat was a banned substance in Ethiopia.
However, exports of the drug bring in large amounts of foreign currency.
Muslims from the eastern Ethiopian city of Harar and the Somali region to the south-east chew the leaf as part of their culture.
SOURCED FROM BBC
Filed under: AFRICAN CRIME AND JUSTICE | Tagged: EAST AFRICAN NEWS, ETHIOPIA, ILLEGAL DRUG STORES SHUT DOWN IN ETHIOPIA | Leave a Comment »
Posted on January 2, 2009 by connectafrica
A convoy of trucks loaded with Ethiopian soldiers, mattresses and other equipment was seen leaving Somalia’s capital Mogadishu on Friday, witnesses said. Ethiopian soldiers have been propping up Somalia’s Western-backed government for the past two years, but say they will withdraw in the next few days — potentially leaving a dangerous power vacuum in the Horn of Africa nation.
It was not immediately clear whether the troop movement was the start of a withdrawal, or a deployment of soldiers elsewhere in the country where they are fighting Islamist insurgents. Ethiopian military officials in Mogadishu were not immediately available for comment.
“We have seen Ethiopian troops moving to Afgoye from Mogadishu,” said resident Omar Abdi Nur, referring to a town 30 km (19 miles) southwest of the capital. “Their vehicles were carrying mainly equipment and soldiers. Nothing happened and they passed safely,” he said, adding that the main road from the capital to Afgoye had been closed to other traffic this morning.
While there are frequent Ethiopian troops movements in and around the capital, residents said the soldiers did not usually move with items such as mattresses and cooking equipment. “I have seen 28 Ethiopian vehicles entering Afgoye town, said Afgoye resident Husein Moalim. “Some soldiers were walking on high alert and others were on the vehicles.”
SOURCED FROM REUTERS
Filed under: AFRICAN NEWS, AFRICAN POLITICS, SOMALIA | Tagged: AFRICAN NEWS, AFRICAN POLITICS, ETHIOPIA, SOMALIA | Leave a Comment »
Posted on December 19, 2008 by connectafrica
Ethiopia has missed the deadline set out in a peace deal to withdraw its forces from Somalia, but has promised to go by the end of December. The recent agreement between the transitional government and Islamist opposition set Friday as the deadline.
A BBC reporter in the capital says the troops are still in their bases. “Our total withdrawal… will be by the end of this month, the prime minister has made it very clear,” Ethiopia’s London ambassador told the BBC.
Ethiopia went into Somalia two years ago to help government forces drive Islamist forces from the capital. But different Islamist forces have been gaining ground in recent months and now control much of southern Somalia once more.
The BBC’s Mohamed Olad Hassan in Mogadishu says in the past two weeks the Ethiopians have been setting up bases in villages along the tarmac road between the capital and Baidoa – their possible exit road.
A small African Union peacekeeping force has indicated it may leave with the Ethiopians unless it gets reinforcements. Berhanu Kebede, the Ethiopian ambassador to the UK, said Ethiopia’s presence had given Somalis an opportunity to participate in political dialogue.
“The conducive environment we created has not been properly used both by international community and the Somalis themselves,” he said on the BBC’s Network Africa programme.
About one million people have fled their homes – many after fierce fighting in Mogadishu between Islamists and the Ethiopia-backed government forces.
SOURCED FROM BBC
Filed under: AFRICAN NEWS, AFRICAN POLITICS, SOMALIA | Tagged: AFRICAN POLITICS, BAKARA MARKET, ETHIOPIA, SOMALIA | Leave a Comment »
Posted on December 2, 2008 by connectafrica
Ethiopian pop star Teddy Afro has been convicted of the manslaughter of a homeless man killed in a hit-and-run incident in Addis Ababa in 2006.
The singer was found guilty of running the man down in his car and driving away without reporting the incident. Ethiopia’s best-known pop star was also convicted of driving without a licence. He faces between five and 15 years in prison when sentenced on Friday.
His music became an anthem for opposition protests in 2005. Many of his fans believe the charges against him were politically motivated.
But Judge Leul Gebremariam dismissed Teddy’s defence in a long summing-up, says the BBC’s Elizabeth Blunt, who was in the courtroom.
There had been some confusion about which night the homeless man had died. On the first date the singer – real name Tewodros Kassahun – had an alibi: He was out of the country.
On the second possible date, Teddy said he had been out with friends. But the judge was not convinced and found him guilty on all charges. As sentence was passed, the singer tried to protest and was hushed by his lawyers.
But as he left court, having regained his composure, Teddy gave a thumbs-up sign to friends and family and told journalists: “I never killed anyone, I didn’t get justice from this court.”
SOURCED FROM BBC
Filed under: AFRICAN CRIME AND JUSTICE, AFRICAN NEWS | Tagged: EAST AFRICAN NEWS, ETHIOPIA, TEDDY AFRO FOUND GUILTY | Leave a Comment »
Posted on November 26, 2008 by connectafrica
Ethiopia has released 44 Oromo Liberation Front rebels from jail for good behaviour during their imprisonment and for expressing remorse.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, the main U.S. ally in the turbulent region, is opposed by a range of rebel groups from remote regions, including the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) which has fought for autonomy for its southern homeland since 1993.
State TV broadcast a statement late on Tuesday by prison administration head Firdu Gebre Tsadik saying some of the 44 OLF prisoners had previously been condemned to death while others were serving life sentences.
“The prisoners, some of whom had served up to ten years, have expressed regret for the crimes they committed and have also shown good behaviour while in jail,” he said.
The footage showed one woman, identified as Asli Mohammed, hailing the amnesty as a new lease of life.
“I regret most sincerely the crime I committed against the government and the people. I shall hereafter dedicate myself to work for peace and development,” she said in Amharic.
OLF officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
The government blames the insurgents for several bomb blasts targeting the capital, Addis Ababa, in recent years, and last week it said its forces had killed a senior OLF commander after luring him to a farmer’s house in the west of the country.
SOURCED FROM REUTERS
Filed under: AFRICAN NEWS, AFRICAN POLITICS | Tagged: EAST AFRICAN NEWS, ETHIOPIA, MELES ZENAWI, OROMO REBELS | Leave a Comment »