Ethiopia delays appeal of jailed blogger, opposition leader

December 19, 2012

Judge Dagne Melaku said more time was needed to review the bulky case file.

Eskinder and Andualem were among 24 people convicted in June under Ethiopia’s anti-terrorism legislation. Eskinder was jailed for 18 years, while Andualem was sentenced to life.

Eskinder, who is representing himself, rejected the claim that he had links with the US-based Ginbot 7 group, considered a terrorist organisation under Ethiopian law.

“I am not a member of Ginbot 7,” said Eskinder in an emotional speech in court, prompting the judge to order him to calm down.

“All the evidence that the prosecution brought against me does not prove that I am a member of Ginbot 7.”

Rights groups have called Ethiopia’s anti-terrorism legislation vague and accuse the government of using the law to stifle peaceful dissent.

All those charged under the law since it was introduced in 2009 have been found guilty, including two Swedish journalists who were sentenced to 11 years in prison, but later released by the government after serving 14 months.

The appeal hearing will resume in January 18.

Eskinder and Andualem are both accused of “participation in a terrorist organisation” and “planning a terrorist act.”

Eskinder received the “freedom to write” award earlier this year from the US-based press watchdog PEN.