A top journalist in Ethiopia has been handed a one-and-half year jail term on charges of public provocation to commit “crimes against the external security and defensive power” of the state.
Getachew Shirafew, was convicted by the court on Wednesday after spending the last year-and-five months in jail. He was arrested in December 2015 and has since been held by the authorities.
The Addis Standard news portal reports that given that he has already served the duration of the sentence in detention he is expected to be released because he is per law entitled to four months of good time credit per a year in detention.
Today's groundless ruling is a further slap in the face for justice in Ethiopia and proof of the authorities' continued willingness ... to misuse the criminal justice system to silence dissent.
He was earlier charged with terrorism, but a court struck out the charge and downgraded it to inciting violence which qualified him to get bail under the law, but he was repeatedly denied – the last time in January 2017.
Shirafew, an ex-freelance journalist, was editor-in-chief of the Amharic media outlet ‘‘Negere Ethiopia,’‘ he was arrested on Christmas day in 2015.
International rights groups have continually said the Ethiopian authorities are continually cracking down not only on opponents but media persons as a means of trying to silence critics.
“Today’s groundless ruling is a further slap in the face for justice in Ethiopia and proof of the authorities’ continued willingness … to misuse the criminal justice system to silence dissent,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s regional director, in a statement.
A federal high court in Ethiopia on Thursday sentenced politician Yonatan Tesfaye to six years and six months in prison for planning, preparing and encouraging terrorism via his Facebook page in 2015.
The former spokesperson for the Blue party was found guilty of the charges earlier this month after his arrest in December 2015 for igniting the Oromo protests that resulted in the death of thousands of people.
The sentence follows an appeal by his lawyer Shibiru Belete Birru for a minimum sentence as the charges carried up to 20 years prison sentence, local media Fana Broadcasting Corporate reported Thursday.