(EFJA/IFEX) - On 11 October 2000, journalist Tesfa Tegegne was released following orders given by the Third Criminal Bench of the Federal High Court on 9 October.
Tegegne was accused of publishing a libelous article in the private newspaper "Remet", of which he was editor-in-chief. The article, issued in February 1997, was said to be in violation of Article 20/1-10/1 of Press Proclamation no. 34/85 and Article 580 of the Penal Code. Tegegne was detained in Addis Ababa prison for eight months. He was released on bail money produced with the joint cooperation of EFJA, World Press Freedom Committee (WPFC), International Press Institute (IPI) and International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). Following his release, Tegegne continued to fight his case.
On 9 October, the Third Criminal Bench of the Federal High Court examined Tegegne's file and sentenced him to two months imprisonment. However, after verifying that Tegegne had already been imprisoned for eight months, the High Court ordered his file closed. Tegegne is fighting two other cases that are pending in the Second and Third Criminal Benches of the Federal High Court.
In a separate incident, journalist Tilahun Bekele, who worked as editor-in-chief of "Fottash" and "Remet" weekly newspapers, was charged with publishing fabricated and defamatory reports in the newspapers. As of December 1997, Bekele has been languishing in prison. The court had entitled him the rights to release on bail. However, Bekele was forced to remain in prison because he was unable to produce bail money for two other charges that were filed against him earlier.
Through the joint efforts of WPFC, IPI and IFJ, the EJFA completed all the necessary formalities to secure the release of Bekele, who has been detained since December 1997 on the allegation that he has violated the Press Law.
In a 12 October written order addressed to the federal prison, the Federal High Court ordered that Bekele be released because he has put forward bail money. However, as of 16 October, Bekele had still not been released.
The EFJA has expressed its deep appreciation to IFJ, IPI and WPFC for their efforts in the matter.
Send appeals to authorities:
- calling for Bekele's unconditional and immediate release
H.E. Ato Meles Zenawi
Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Fax: +251 1 55 20 20
H.E. Ato Woredewold Wolde
Minister of Justice
Fax: +251 1 55 07 22
Please copy appeals to the source if possible.