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News: A court in Ethiopia jails thirteen Muslims accused of killing prominent Sheik from three to sixteen years

The thirteen were also accused of working to ‘establish an Islamic state’ in Ethiopia; one of the accused has died while in jail  

Mahlet Fasil

Addis Abeba, January 26, 2017 – Ethiopia’s federal High Court 19th criminal bench has today sentenced 13 Muslims accused of killing Sheik Nuru Yimam, a prominent Islamic leader in Dessie town, 387kms North of Addis Abeba,  in July 2013, from 2 years and eight months to 16 years in jail.  

Charges against the thirteen include charges of organizing themselves to work towards ‘establishing an Islamic state’ in Ethiopia, a terrorism accusation.

The accused were originally 14, but the 9th defendant, Mubarak Yimer, has died on January 15, 2016, under suspicious circumstances while he was in police custody. He was found dead in his cell and no investigation was carried out to establish the cause of death.

The killing of Sheik Nuru Yimam, who was shot to death at his residence on the night of July 5, 2013, has been one of the most controversial issues ever since. He was known to have publically supported the government’s crackdown against Muslim protesters that began in Dec. 2011. Muslims who continued protesting against the government maintain he was killed by government thugs to blackmail their protest movements.

Ethiopian Muslims were protesting since 2011 against what many of them say were an uncalled for interference by the government in the affairs of their religion. The protests came to a disturbing twist on Monday, Oct. 29th, 2012 when a federal court in Addis Abeba decided to charge 29 Muslim protestors arrested in July of the same year with “plotting acts of terrorism” under the country’s infamous anti-terror proclamation.

According to today’s court ruling, the highest sentences were handed to the 8th defendant Yimer Hussein, who was sentenced to 16 years in jail, while the seventh defendant, Umar Hussien Ahmed, was jailed for 15 years and six months. Umar is also among the 38 inmates who are accused of setting the controversial Qilinto fire.

The first, third and fourth defendants, Ahmed Idris, Adem Aregawiyan and Saleh Mohamed respectively, were jailed to 15 years each.  The sixth defendant Ibrahim Mussie Yimam and the second defendant, Anwar Omar, are sentenced to 14 and 12 years respectively. The fifth defendant Abdurahman Eshetu and the 11th defendant Abdu Hassen Mohamed are sentenced to six year each; 10th defendant Ismael Hassen Yimer is sentenced to five years. Ahmed Jemal Seid, 12th defendant, and 13th defendant Muamud Yusuf Mohamed were each sentenced to three years and eight months and four years and four months.

Their lawyer, Bahiru Mikanga, told Addis Standard that there were enough grounds to appeal the sentencing, but said he was yet to discuss further actions with his clients.

Today’s sentencing follows yet another sentencing of a group of Muslim protesters into lengthy jail terms. On January 03, the federal High Court 19th criminal bench has sentenced19 defendants under the file name of the first defendant Kedir Moahmmed Yusuf.

Photo: Partial view of defendants as their pictures were paraded on state TV during the trial 

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