Ethiopia Sentences Three Britons to Jail on Terrorism Charges

An Ethiopian court sentenced three British
citizens to prison after finding them guilty of trying to
establish Islamic rule in the country through acts of
“terrorism,” according to a Justice Ministry official.

Ali Adorus was sentenced to 4 1/2 years in Ethiopian
prison, while Somalia-born Mohammed Ahmed and Ahmed Elmi were
each given jail terms of four years and eight months, Fekadu
Tsega, coordinator of the federal center of prosecution, said by
phone yesterday from the capital, Addis Ababa.

“They were accused of trying to unconstitutionally change
the government and introduce Islamic government in Ethiopia by
terrorism,” he said.

Ethiopia, where Christianity dates to about the fourth
century and is followed by about 60 percent of the country’s 94
million people, sent troops three years ago into Somalia to help
African Union peacekeepers battle al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab.
The group has since 2006 been trying to overthrow the government
in Somalia and impose Shariah, or Islamic law, there.

The militants have threatened to attack Ethiopia in revenge
for its military presence in Somalia, as they’ve done in other
troop-contributing nations, including Kenya and Uganda. Al-Shabaab carried out twin bombings in the Ugandan capital,
Kampala, in 2010 that left more than 70 people dead and raided a
shopping mall in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi in 2013, killing
at least 67 civilians and security personnel.

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Terrorism Charges

The three British men were charged with contravening the
country’s 2009 anti-terrorism law, Fekadu said. The prosecution
and defense have the right to appeal against the sentences.
Donors such as the U.S. and the United Nations have said that
Ethiopia’s 2009 anti-terrorism law is used to silence legitimate
dissent from journalists, opposition politicians and other
critics of the state.

The men formed a militia in 2006 and first entered Ethiopia
in 2011, Fekadu said. The court found they had links with a
Yemen-based section of the Oromo Liberation Front, a group
banned in Ethiopia that’s fighting for more autonomy for the
Oromo, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group.

Adorus, who was arrested in January 2013 in Ethiopia,
signed a false confession under torture, according to Cage, a
London-based justice group,

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“Ali Adorus was brutally beaten, handcuffed behind his
back for extended period of time, beaten on his hands with heavy
wires, hooded, electrocuted and denied toilet access,” Cage
said in a statement on its website, citing a UN petition.
“Without legal assistance, the Londoner eventually signed a
false confession in Amharic, a language he does not even
speak.”

The U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office has provided
consular assistance to Adorus, a spokeswoman, who declined to be
identified in line with policy, said by phone from London
yesterday, without providing further information.

The mobile phone of Communications Minister Redwan Hussien
didn’t connect today when Bloomberg News called him for comment,
while Shimeles Kemal, state minister for communications, didn’t
answer a call to his mobile phone.

To contact the reporter on this story:
William Davison in Addis Ababa at
wdavison3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Nasreen Seria at
nseria@bloomberg.net
Sarah McGregor, John Viljoen, Paul Richardson

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