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Ethiopian former defence minister released after six years’ prison term

Issue 286
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US Forces Meddle In Berbera Port Traffic

Police Prevent ‘Qaran Party’ Meeting In Gebiley

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The 'arms smuggler', the murdered judge, and a scandal threatening to engulf Chirac

Former SFDA chief executed for corruption

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Comments on today's BBC news

UDUB, UCID, and KULMIYE: Are There Any Differences?

Democracy Requires An Informed Citizenry

The Mayor Of Hargeysa—The New Mohammed Dheere Of Somaliland


By Simegnish Yekoye

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, July 13, 2007 - The former Ethiopian Defence Minster and member of parliament, Siye Abrha, who was found guilty of corruption was released on Wednesday after the Ethiopian supreme court sentenced him to five years imprisonment and a fine of 500 birr [USD; 1 USD = 8.9 birr].

Siye and his four family members were charged with 13 cases of corruption. Siye was released as he had already spent six years in prison during his trial and thus had already served out his prison time. Among the charges brought against the former defence minister include using his power to help his younger brother illegally buy vehicles with unfair price.

Siye on his leniency had claimed he should be given the minimum time of sentencing mentioning he has no dangerous behavior, is the father of three and his time of six years in prison should be considered.

When he first appeared in the court five years ago, the then judge Birtukan Midekesa [who is now among convicted CUD defendants in jail] had released him on bail. However, Siye was brought back to jail the same day after his bail right was denied by another court.

Siye’s younger brother, Mehretab Abrha, who was also found guilty of the same charge was sentenced to five years and 1000 birr punishment. Mehretab was also released on Wednesday having served the term in prison.
The former Ethiopian prime minster, Tamirat Layene, was also found guilty of using his power illegally to help cars be imported without any tax paid on them and was sentenced to three months. Tamirat is already serving term in prison after he was found guilty of corruption in 1997 and was sentenced for 18 years.

Since, Tamirat has a few more years to go provided courts find him eligible for probation. On his leniency plea however, Tamirat had mentioned his action of allowing the cars to enter the country without tax was meant to alleviate the problem of transportation at the time.

Last week the federal prosecutor of the anti-corruption commission, Abahoye Gwade, had requested for the possible higher punishment against the two former government officials for their charges.

The third brother of Siye, Asefa Abrha, who was freed of the charge under the file of his brother but found guilty in another, was sentenced for nine years since his time in custody. Asefa who used to be chairman of the then Ethiopian privatization agency and Ethiopian commercial bank was charged of abusing his powers for personal gains. Though Asefa had been in jail for six years, he has three more years to go in order to finish his time of sentence.

The other two people, Beshahe Azmete (former manager of Ethiopian privatization agency) and Fitsumzeab Asgedome (owner of the Taitu hotel, Gulele soap factory and the daily monitor newspaper were also sentenced for eight and five years respectively. As he spent the last five years in jail, Fitsumzeab on the other hand was released on Wednesday while Beshahe remained in jail.

Source: The Sub-Saharan Informer


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