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Court orders release of journalists imprisoned for more than three years; journalist jailed; new charges filed against others

(EFJA/IFEX) - On 10 May 2001, a court ordered the release of three journalists who used to work for "Urji" newspaper. Garoma Bekele, Tesfaye Deressa and Solomon Nemera are to be released after three years' imprisonment.

The three journalists, who were accused of engaging in terrorist activities, were fighting their cases in court while in prison. The court had previously given them prison terms and fines on allegation that they had violated the press law.

The three EFJA members who were acquitted by the court are expected to meet formalities, be released from Addis Ababa prison and reunite with their respective families.

In another case, the deputy editor-in-chief of "Mogad" newspaper, Daniel Gezzahegne, appeared in court on 4 May on allegations that he has violated the press law by publishing an article that appeared on "Gemena" newspaper. Gezzahegne was formerly editor-in-chief of "Gemena".

The court ordered Gezzahegne to produce bail money amounting to 5000 birr (approx. US$605). The journalist is now being detained in prison because he could not produce the bail money.

Finally, new charges have been filed against several journalists. Kidus Habt Belachew, editor-in-chief of "Mebrek" newspaper, reported to the Central Investigation Department (CID) on 10 May and made a statement to police in connection with reports his newspaper carried the demands of Addis Ababa University students. He was released on a 10,000 birr (approx. US$1,210) bail.

The CID has asked the editors-in-chief of several newspapers, including "Tomar", "Goh" and "Moged", to report to its office.

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