Monday, July 16, 2007

Millenniaul Challenges: Experiencing Good Governance in the eyes of the Court System - the case of Ethiopian Court Verdict!

Global Strategic Enterprises, Inc for Peace and Prosperity-;

Dear Patriotic Global Citizens and Friends of Ethiopia:

Re: Millennial Challenges of Good Governance- the Case of the Ethiopian Court Verdict:

The last two years has seen several transformations around the world and especially in Ethiopia following the May 15, 2005 National Elections.

A lot has been written and spoken about the electioin event as being the landmark of the nation's and for that matter Africa's transformation and the much awaited African Renaissance in the new Millennium.

However, events turned for the worst when an illegal demonstration was staged against the decreed ban on demonstrations following the series of threats of violence and terror by certain misguided elements in the City of Addis Ababa.

Yes, there was a cause for the potential irregularities of the otherwise excellent election process, but the threat was total chaos and standstill called on by overt and covert politically motivated groups.

To date, no one had taken responsibility, except the one that is now surfacing from the Prime Minister's Office. as a token of amnesty or plea bargain made by the CUD leadership. There is a serious remorse, some sort of atonement and request for clemancy or some form of pleabargain with the signature of all the prisoners that could not be posted here as it is written in Amharic.

Amharic is an Ethiopic language, with its own distinct integrated vowel and consonant system and numberic symbols unique to Ethiopia and happens the official language of this ancient country, one amongst 80 or languages and 120 vernaculars. The sample scripts are posted on the left margin of this blog for those interested to understand the historical and cultural significance of the Ethiopian contribution to world literature and civilization, etc.

This is a good beginning and trust the government will consider it and give it all the attention it deserves. Afterall, the culture of pardon and clemency is part and parcel of the Ethiopian constitution and the Pardon Board and is ability to recommend to the head of state to make a unique opportunity for atonement and recondiliation is the vehicle for its execution in the current constitution. It is critical to recognize the work of Professor Ephrem Issac and his "Elders Council" in line with the historical and scriptural role of the elders in the Judeo-Christian and Gedda System in Ethiopia from time immomerial.

Ethiopia is lucky to utilize the tools and expetise of the ancient culture and modern constitution under one roof in one country to solve protracted problems such as this one.

Lots of lives and property was lost, and most importantly the image of the country and the development and business community were badly impacted. To date, the diplomatic and investment image of the country has not recovered fully due to the unsettling and disturbing developments.

No, country, leave alone one that has survived and flourished for over 7,500 years will allow chaos and mayhem to over take the peaceful lives of the country including the lives of the diverse multicultural international communities who have made Addis Ababa, Ethiopia their home by choice and by destiny.

The Ethiopian people and government have the responsibility of not only protecting the safety and wellbeing of their citizens, but of those noble international citizens who work in the African Union, Economic Commission for Africa, and one of the largest diplomatic community in the world.

This judgement and its long lasting implication is that Ethiopia is a country of rule of law and civility and no amount of overt or covert lawlessness and terror would ever be accepted. Yes, tourists, investors and international development experts, business and diplomatic community should be rest assured what transpired in May 2005 will never be repeated again. This verdict and potential plea bargain or amnesty is your guarantee is what should be the take home message for all.

We all should congratulate all the prosecutors, defendants and the judicial system for protecting the freedom and rule of law governance and for those brave enough to accept responsibility and request for pardon as it is a long awaited precursor for the much needed reconciliation, revival and Renaissance of the nation and the African Community.

The following is an interesting reading as the law, the judgement, the local and international community perspectives is included.

Let us hope this is a good beginning to transforming the image and fortunes of Ethiopia and Africa.

After all, we are all citizens of the Global Village and what happens in Addis matters both in the South, East, West and the North but also in our common consciousness as we celebrate the new Ethiopian Millennium on 12th September 2007.

Wishing you good reading and expecting your reflections and contributions.

Dr B of GSE for PP

CUD leaders sentenced to life in prison
The Associated Press
July 16, 2007

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia - A court sentenced 35 opposition politicians and activists to life in prison and denied them the right to vote or run for public office for inciting violence in an attempt to overthrow the government, a judge said Monday.

The prosecution had called for death sentences against the defendants, who included Ethiopia's top opposition leaders and five people charged, tried and convicted in absentia.

Another eight defendants facing similar charges were sentenced to between 18 months and 18 years in prison, said Judge Adil Ahmed, reading the sentences on behalf of the three-judge panel.

The judges declined to follow the recommendation of the prosecution to hand down the death penalty, Adil said.

"The court has deemed life imprisonment as a comprehensive and sufficient verdict for the actions taken," he said.

All people sentenced to life imprisonment have also been permanently denied the right to vote or run for office. Those given lesser sentences were banned from office for five years.

The judges also ordered the closure of three publishing companies and fined each of them between $1,700 and $13,600.

Those facing life imprisonment include the leader of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy, Hailu Shawel; Berhanu Nega, who was elected mayor of Addis Ababa; former Harvard scholar Mesfin Woldemariam; and former U.N. special envoy and former Norfolk (Va.) State University professor, Yacob Hailemariam.

International human rights groups have widely condemned the trial as an attempt to silence government critics, and opposition leaders have claimed it was politically motivated.

The Federal High Court trial began in December 2005 following post election violence that erupted during protests over balloting six months earlier.

The opposition won an unprecedented number of parliamentary seats in the 2005 vote, but Prime Minister Meles Zenawi held onto power. The opposition claimed the voting was rigged, and European Union observers said they were marred by irregularities.
Initially, the opposition leaders, journalists and others were charged with treason, inciting violence and attempted genocide. Judges dropped the treason and attempted genocide charges in April and later that month freed 25 prisoners, among them eight journalists.

Since April, a total of 43 people faced four other charges, but only nine chose to put up a defense.

Late last year, Ethiopia acknowledged that its security forces killed 193 civilians protesting alleged election fraud, but insisted they did not use excessive force. A senior judge appointed to investigate the violence had accused the security forces of excessive force.

Ethiopia life jail terms attacked
The head of the European Union 2005 election observers in Ethiopia has said she is "appalled" at the life sentences given to 30 opposition leaders.
Ana Gomes told the BBC the sentences were "farcical" and "inhumane" and urged the EU to seek their release.

Another eight people were given shorter jail terms, while five were tried in absentia for their role in violent protests at alleged poll-rigging.

Ethiopia's information minister hinted that the 38 could soon be freed.

Bereket Simon told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme that the government was looking into their apology and request for a pardon

"The prisoners have admitted... trying to overthrow the government by the use of force and have asked for clemency."

In court:
Life: 30
15-18 years: 6
1-3 years: 2 journalists
In absentia:
Life: 5

He said that now that the legal process had ended, a new political process would start.
Many Ethiopians expect the 38 to be freed soon by the government.

Their relatives say the detainees have signed a document which could pave the way for their release.

The prosecution had demanded the death penalty for them all.


Ms Gomes told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme that she thought life in prison was just as bad as the death penalty.

"[Their] only crime was to express their opinions freely in elections, which were supposed to be democratic," she said.
High court judge Adil Ahmed also barred the 30 Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) leaders from voting or standing for election.
"The accused have committed serious crimes, which caused the death of civilians and security forces and attempted to overthrow the government," he said.

"The accused have also failed to present to the court mitigating evidences for the charges brought against them."

But he said they did not deserve the death penalty.

Before the sentences, the US had warned that any judgement should promote reconciliation between the government and the opposition.

The BBC's Elizabeth Blunt in Addis Ababa says the trial has been closely watched in the city, a CUD stronghold.

She says that the entire front row of seats in the court was taken up by diplomats and a simultaneous English translation was provided.


Five of the 38, including CUD leader Hailu Shawel, were convicted of inciting, organising and leading armed rebellion.

Among the 38 are the entire CUD leadership, several of the capital's elected MPs and city councillors, including Berhanu Negga, mayor-elect of Addis Ababa.

Hundreds of thousands took part in demonstrations complaining of fraud and rigging in the elections won by Prime Minister Meles' party.

Some 193 people were killed in protests at alleged vote-rigging.

Most of the dead were protesters, killed by security forces.


An independent inquiry carried out by an Ethiopian judge concluded that the police had used excessive force.

He went on to accuse them of carrying out a massacre. The judge later fled Ethiopia, saying he had been put under pressure to change his findings and had received death threats.

The government points out that it introduced multiparty elections to Ethiopia after years of military rule.

In the elections, the opposition made huge gains but says it was cheated out of victory.

Three months ago, a judge threw out controversial charges of attempted genocide and treason against 111 people, including those sentenced on Monday, over the election protests.

The violence and the charges of election fraud have tarnished Mr Meles' image as a favourite of Western donors and one of a new wave of reforming African leaders.

Some donors have reduced aid over the case.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2007/07/16 16:39:10 GMT

© BBC MMVII</strong>

Sentencing due on Monday as reported by
Saturday, 14 July 2007

The Federal High Court is expected to pass a sentence next Monday against the jailed CUD leaders and other defendants whom it convicted of, among others, the crimes of outrage against the constitution and obstruction of the exercise of constitutional powers on a ruling it passed on June 11.

Following the court's order that both the defendants and the prosecutor submit a submission on sentencing, the prosecutor did so this Monday. Some of the defendants submitted their submission on Wednesday. An unofficial translation of the prosecutor's submission on sentencing shows below.

Federal High Court
Second Criminal Bench
Addis Ababa
F/H/C/F/No. 43246
F/P/C/F/No. 00860
F/P/C/I/F/No. 186/98

Re: Prosecutor's submission on sentencing as per Article 149(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code and articles 84/183 (General Aggravating Circumstances), Articles 85/184 (Aggravation of Penalty in Case of Concurrent Crimes) and Article 258 (Special Aggravating Circumstance) of the Criminal Code of 2004

The following is a submission on sentencing pursuant to the [court's] order following the conviction of 5 of the accused who were tried in absentia and pronounced guilty during a ruling given from April 30 onwards to May 9, 2007 as well as 41 of the accused who were tried in person and [also] pronounced guilty on June 11, 2007 in the case of The Prosecutor vs Ato Hailu Shawel et al having regard to the provisions of the criminal code on the basis of which they were found guilty.

1) The provisions of the criminal code on the basis of which the accused were found guilty

The [court's] file shows that after the court gave a ruling for the accused to defend only four of the crimes the prosecutor charged them with, it found them guilty, according to the law, when they failed to submit defense evidence, despite repeated adjournments, on the basis of the following provisions of the Criminal Code:

1.1 Under the first charge, articles 32(1) (a) (b), 38, 34, 27(1) and 238(1) as well as 258 of the Criminal Code of 2004;
1.2. Under the second charge, articles 32(1) (a) (b), 38, 27(1) and 239 of the Criminal Code of 2004;

1.3. Under the third charge, articles 32(1) (a) (b), 38 and 240 (1) (a) of the Criminal Code of 2004;

1.4. Under the fifth charge, articles 32 (1) (a) (b), 27, 38, 34, 247 (a) (c) and 258;

1.5. For some of the accused, under articles 32 (1) (a) (b), 46 and 257 (a) as well as 486 (a) of the Criminal Code of 2004 by substituting them, according to Article 113 (2) of the Criminal Procedure Code, in lieu of the provisions of the Criminal Code they were indicted with under the first charge.

2) The punishments prescribed by the provisions of the Criminal Code on the basis of which the accused were found guilty.

2.1. In respect of the first charge, life imprisonment or death;
2.2. In respect of the second charge, rigorous imprisonment not exceeding 15 years;
2.3 In respect of the third charge, rigorous imprisonment from 10 to 25 years;
2.4. In respect of the fifth charge, rigorous imprisonment from 5 to 25 years, or in cases of exceptional gravity, such as in time of war or danger of war, life imprisonment or death;

2.5. In respect of articles 257 and 486 of the Criminal Code of 2004, under which pronouncements of guilt were passed after they were substituted in lieu of the provisions of the prosecutor's first charge, simple imprisonment or, where the foreseeable consequences of the criminal's activities are particularly grave, rigorous imprisonment not exceeding 10 years (Art. 257) or 3 years (Art. 486);

2.6. Having regard to, in respect of the first and fifth charges, the verdict of guilty also pronounced under Article 258 of the Criminal Code of 2004 which entails the alternative punishments of rigorous imprisonment for life or death, the death sentence should be passed as the same article provides that this sentence be handed where the manner of the commission of the crimes contained in the prosecutor's charges, as proven by the prosecutor and on the basis of which the pronouncement of guilt was passed, fulfill the elements of "a" to "d" thereof;

2.7. In respect of the press publishers convicted under the provisions of the Criminal Code cited in the first charge, the punishment of a fine up to Birr 500,000 (Five Hundred Thousand Birr) as well as the additional penalty of suspending, closing or winding up the publishing organization.

3) The charges under which the accused were convicted.

The [court's] decision indicates that the accused who were convicted on the charges brought against them are the following:

A. Under the first, second, third and fifth (4) concurrent charges
1) The 1st defendant Ato Hailu Shawel
2) The 2nd defendant Ato Abayneh Berhanu
3) The 3rd defendant Major Getachew Mengistie
B. Under the first, second and fifth (3) concurrent charges
4) The 4th defendant Ato Gizachew Shiferaw
5) The 5th defendant Dr. Hailu Araya
6) The 6th defendant Ato Muluneh Eyoel
7) The 7th defendant Ato Sileshi Tenna
8) The 8th defendant Dr. Berhanu Nega
9) The 9th defendant Dr. Befekadu Degifie
10) The 11th defendant Dr. Yacob H/Mariam
11) The 12th defendant W/rt Birtukan Mideksa
12) The 13th defendant Ato Aschalew Ketema
13) The 14th defendant Dr. Tadeos Bogale
14) The 15th defendant Ato G/Tsadik H/Mariam
15) The 16th defendant Ato Assefa H/Wold
16) The 17th defendant Ato Bruck Kebede
17) The 18th defendant Ato Mesfin Aman /in absentia/
18) The 19th defendant Ato Tamirat Tarekegn
19) The 20th defendant Ato Andualem Aragie
20) The 21st defendant W/ro Nigist G/Hiwot
21) The 22nd defendant Ato Debebe Eshetu
22) The 23rd defendant Ato Yeneneh Mulatu
C. Under the first and third (2) concurrent charges
23) The 24th defendant Ato Mamushet Amare
24) The 87th defendant Ato Mesfin Tesfaye
25) The 122nd defendant Ato Tesfaye Tariku
D. Under the first charge only
26) The 10th defendant Professor Mesfin W/Mariam
27) The 33rd defendant Ato Anteneh Mulugeta
28) The 34th defendant Ato Melaku Fantaye
29) The 40th defendant Ato Andargachew Tsigie /in absentia/
30) The 51st defendant Ato Elias Kifle /in absentia/
31) The 73rd defendant Sisay Publishing and Advertisement
32) The 75th defendant Ato Andualem Ayele
33) The 76th defendant Serkalem Publishing
34) The 79th defendant Ato Zelalem Gebrie /in absentia/
35) The 85th defendant Ato Abiy Gizaw /in absentia/
36) The 96th defendant Ato Mesfin Debessa
37) The 97th defendant Ato Berhanu Alemayehu /[aka] China/
38) The 98th defendant Ato Wudineh Jedie
39) The 112th defendant Ato Melaku Uncha
40) The 113th defendant Ato Abiyot Wakjira
41) The 117th defendant Ato Daniel Berihun
42) The 123rd defendant Ato Waltanegus Asnake
43) The 124th defendant Ato Mulu Gashu
E. Under the amended first charge
44) The 70th defendant Fassil Publishing and Advertisement
45) The 82nd defendant Ato Dawit Fassil

4. Prosecutor's submission on sentencing as per articles 84/183, 85/184, and 258 of the Criminal Code of 2004.

4.1. Whereas the criminal act for which the accused were convicted under the first charge:

A. Is a commission of the grave crime of attempting to overthrow the constitution, the bastion of the public and the government, and the constitutional order in acceptance of the consequences of the ensuing disturbance for national and public security;

B. Is a commission of a grave crime where the unlawful call for and perpetration of rebellion caused the loss of life as well as bodily harm to several peaceful citizens and law enforcement personnel;

C. Could have entailed considerable danger had it not been averted through the government's discharge of its duty to uphold the law as well as the sacrifice paid in life and bodily harm;

D. Could have entailed greater damage than it caused to public and government property had it not been averted;

E. Entailed a serious crisis against public security and life;

F. Was committed at a time when following the government's ban, imposed for a limited time, on holding public gathering and rally in the wake of the [May 2005] elections with a view to forestall the intended unlawful rebellion was in force and there was a threat of war;

G. Was committed deliberately through a conspiracy and an agreement to conspire, by way of arms and terror;

H. Entails the death sentence pursuant to the aggravating circumstances mentioned above as well as Article 258 of the criminal code of 2004 under which they were convicted;

passage of the aggravated sentence of death against all of the 1st-43rd accused but with the exception of the 73rd and 76th accused organizations in accordance with articles 84(1) (c) (d) and 183 as well as 183 and the provisions of the Criminal Code on the basis of which they were pronounced guilty under the first charge.

I. Similarly, as the conviction of the 76th accused organization, Serkalem Publishing, under articles 257 (a) and 486 (a) of the Criminal Code of 2004 in addition to the first charge entails aggravation of sentence pursuant to articles 85/184 of the Criminal Code of 2004 and the 73rd accused organization was convicted of the grave crime it was charged with under the first charge;
punishment with the highest fine and the additional penalty of closing them as prescribed by articles 34 (1) (2) and 90 (3) (4).

4.2. Without prejudice to the submission indicated in 4.1 on aggravating the sentence as regards all the convicts charged in the first charge, since the concurrent conviction of the accused listed under 1 to 25 in respect of the second, third and fifth charges in addition to the first charge for committing grave crimes entails the death penalty, and in particular their conviction on the basis of the aggravating Article 258 makes it mandatory to aggravate the sentence to the maximum in accordance with articles 85 and 184 of the Criminal Code of 2004, this should be considered as a reason justifying the death sentence proposed under 4.1.

4.3. Although it is within the court's power to amend the prosecutor's first charge in respect of defendants 44 to 46 and convict them pursuant to the alternative articles 257 (a) and 486 (a) of the Criminal Code, as they have equal participation and assume equal responsibility having regard to the crime committed and the consequences thereof, we ask the aggravating reasons enumerated in 4.1 to be applicable to them and the passage of the maximum sentence the provisos under which they were convicted carry.

5. Concluding proposal regarding submission on sentencing.

We request for the following sentence to be passed:
5.1. Given that in addition to the severe punishment the provisions of the law under which the accused were found charged by the prosecutor and found guilty thereof entail both individually and concurrently, the way they conducted themselves before the court from the date the charge was brought until they were convicted does neither show that they accept the rule of law nor does it manifest a repentance for their acts that may mitigate, their punishment, as per Article 79 [sic] of the Criminal Code, the punishment against all of them should be aggravated and they should be handed the maximum sentence the provisions of the law under which they were convicted carry;

5.2. Pursuant to the stipulations of Article 124 (2) of the Criminal Code of 2004 that a sentence of death or of rigorous imprisonment carries with it the deprivation of all civil rights, and having regard to the accused' criminal motive and the manner of the commission of the crime, an order depriving their civil rights as provided for in Article 123(a) (b) and (c) should be given in accordance with articles 123 and 124.

Posted on Saturday, July 14 @ 10:03:13 EAT by staff

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