Ethiopia convicts U.N. staff of terrorism
Awramba Times (Addis Ababa) – Abdurahman Sheikh Hassan, an Ethiopian security officer with the United Nations charged last July with having links to the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), a secessionist rebel group, faced up to 10 years in jail after the federal high court in Addis Ababa found him guilty on Monday of “participating in a terrorist organisation”.
“The defendant has not convinced us that he did not commit a crime… he’s guilty,” said Judge Mulugeta Kidane. Abdurahman is charged along with Sherif Baido, a senior member of the ONLF and was convicted on the same charge in absentia. According to the judge, the court is expected to deliver a sentence on Friday.
The key evidence used by the prosecution was recordings of phone conversations between Hassan and his co-defendant. The court said the voices of Hassan and Baido had been matched to those on the tape after it was analyzed by the cybercrimes unit. “It has been proved by the cybercrimes section that it was their voices,” the judge added.
But Hassan’s lawyer Netsanet Getahun asked the court to be lenient towards her client. “My client hasn’t harmed anyone, he hasn’t done any concrete damage… we want the court to be considerate because he has already served one year in jail,” she said, adding that Hassan suffers from high blood pressure and heart disease and has a large family to support.
Human rights watch and Amnesty international have criticized Ethiopia’s 2009 “anti-terrorism” legislation for being far-reaching and used to stifle peaceful dissent and freedom of expression.