The Federal High court fourth criminal bench has today passed a guilty verdict against Yonatan Tesfaye, former opposition Blue Party public relations head.
Yonatan was first arrested in December 2015, barely a month after the first wave of a year-long #Oromoprotests erupted. He was held incommunicado during the pre-trial weeks and was subsequently charged in May 2016 under Ethiopia’s infamous anti-terrorism proclamation (ATP).
Yonatan has been defending the charges against him since then. The charges of ‘encouragement of terrorism’, stipulated under article six of the ATP, were largely drawn from his Facebook activism during the protests. According to article six of the ATP, “Whosoever publishes or causes the publication of a statement that is likely to be understood by some or all of the members of the public to whom it is published as a direct or indirect encouragement or other inducements to them to the commission or preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism… ” is subject to terrorism charges.
He had presented several defense witnesses, including prominent opposition party leaders from the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), Bekele Gerba and Dr. Merera Gudina, who are in jail at the time of their testimony fighting charges of terrorism and multiple criminal charges respectively, and journalist Eskendir Nega, who is serving 18 years in prison for terrorism-related charges.
©Alleastafrica and The Ethiopian Herald