Home » News »

Ethiopia jails Canadian for life on terror charges

ADDIS ABABA — An Ethiopian-born Canadian was on Monday sentenced to life in prison for terrorism-related charges by the high court in the capital Addis Ababa.

Bashir Makhtal was last week convicted on three charges mainly of inciting rebellion by aiding and abetting armed opposition groups in Ethiopia and being a senior member of a rebel group.

“After finding the defendant Bashir Makhtal guilty on all counts last week, the court sentences the defendant to life in prison,” said Adem Ibrahim who chaired a three-man panel of judges.

Makhtal was also accused of supporting a hardline Islamist movement in neighbouring Somalia who Ethiopian forces ousted in 2007 when they intervened to prop up the country’s embattled government.

He denied all the charges for which prosecutors had demanded the death penalty. The defence had pleaded for a lighter sentence, arguing that the accused had already spent time in jail since being arrested.

The 40-year-old was among some 150 people detained by Kenyan forces on the border with Somalia as they fled the Ethiopian onslaught on the Islamists.

Source (AFP)

Canadian sentenced to life in prison in Ethiopia

David McDougall

Bashir Makhtal, a Canadian citizen who has been imprisoned in Ethiopia for two and a half years, was handed a life sentence Monday by the High Court in Addis Ababa after being convicted on three terrorism related charges.

Though the prosecution had been seeking a death penalty for Mr. Makhtal, a 40-year-old former Toronto resident who emigrated to Canada in 1991, his lawyer in Ethiopia said they had been asking for a light prison term.

“He’s very unhappy,” said the lawyer, Gebramlak Gebregiorgis Tekle. “When a person hears he’s going to spend the rest of his life in prison, definitely he would be unhappy.”

Mr. Tekle said they planned to launch an appeal with the Federal Supreme Court within two weeks. But human rights groups and legal experts have repeatedly questioned the likelihood of Mr. Makhtal receiving a fair trial in Ethiopia.

“Although it’s true there is an appeal process,” said Toronto lawyer Lorne Waldman, who has been retained by Mr. Makhtal’s family to represent his case in Canada, “we have no expectation that the appeal decision will be any different than the trial decision, because as we know the judiciary is not independent in Ethiopia.”

“Whatever happens to Bashir Makhtal will be a political decision and not a legal decision.”

Mr. Makhtal was arrested by Kenyan authorities in December, 2006 as he attempted to cross the border from Somalia on a Canadian passport to escape fighting between Islamist militia and the Ethiopian army.

According to friends, family and Mr. Makhtal’s own court testimony, he was in Mogadishu for business, importing used clothing from Dubai for resale in East Africa.

Mr. Makhtal was never charged in Kenya. Instead, three weeks after his arrest, he was forcibly deported along with scores of other prisoners to Mogadishu and ultimately Ethiopia, where he was held for nearly two years incommunicado and in solitary confinement. For most of that time he was denied consular access.

Friends and family say Mr. Makhtal was detained because his grandfather was one of the founding members of the Ogaden National Liberation Front, an ethnic Somalia separatist movement which Ethiopian considers a terrorist organization, though Mr. Makhtal denies having any involvement with the organization.

Source: Globe and Mail News

Faafin: SomaliTalk.com //

. Afeef: Aragtida maqaallada iyo faallooyinka waa kuwo u gaar ah qorayaasha ku saxiixan. E-mail Link Xiriiriye weeyey

comment closed after 30 days / Jawaabaha waa la xiray ama waa la joojiyay wixii ka badan 30 cisho.