Verdict passed on five terrorism suspects

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A sentencing verdict has been passed against five individuals on terrorism charges relating to their ties to Elias Kifle the first defendant and owner of the Ethiopian Review website and with Ginbot 7 movement, Oromia Liberation Front (OLF), ONLF and Patriotic Front. They were accused of planning to perform covert armed terrorist activities with the sponsorship of the Eritrean government. The four defendants of the Elias Kifle terrorism trial have been behind bars since June. Elias Kifle a resident of the US was tried in absentia through the whole court proceeding.
The court ruled that the first defendant Elias Kifle Editor of an Ethiopian Opposition website Ethiopian Review be given a life sentence in absentia. The second defendant, Zerihun GebreGizabher, President of the Ethiopian National Unity Party was given 17 years imprisonment and 50,000 birr fine.
The third defendant, Wubeshet Taye, former editor in chief of the recently defunct Awramba Times weekly Newspaper was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment and a 33,000 birr fine. The fourth defendant, Hirut Kifle was given 19 years imprisonment and fifth defendant Reyot Alemu, a columnist at Feteh Newspaper 14 years imprisonment and a 33,000 birr fine.
The charge read that the individuals with the sponsorship of the Eritrean government starting from June 2011 had planned to carry out terrorist activities against the constitution and constitutional government in order to destabilize it and destroy it. They were found guilty of laying targets in six zones. The defendants were also accused of earning money from criminal activity for terrorism activities and passing it off as legal money.
The six zones were: Addis Ababa, Dessie, Woldeyia, Harar, Hawassa, Assosa, Wollega, Jijiga and Gondar.  They were found guilty of sabotaging electric, telephone, and fiber network lines. They are also charged with receiving money through Elias Kifle through a complex and covert system.
International Media Watchdog groups and Human rights organizations have criticized the trial, conviction and sentencing of the five individuals as well as others being tried or convicted on separate terrorism charges as politically motivated and the accused to be Prisoners of Conscience.