Tesfaye Birru’s appeal rejected


The Federal Cassation Court decided not to hear the appeal of former Ethiopian Telecommunication Corporation Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tesfaye Birru on Monday, October 1, Capital learned.  The appeal was filed after the lower court ruled on two charges in connection to contract bid with Ericson and a case involving broadband Internet.

At the Cassation Court, Tesfaye Birru’s (PhD) lawyers argued that the court made their ruling based on  a regulation approved in October 2004 despite the fact that the  infraction occurred in 2003. At the time of the broadband Internet debacle, the lawyers argued, Management Committee and Telecommunication Corporation’s board submitted their minutes to the court. Yet, they argued, the court made a decision without considering those documents. The CEO of Ethiopian Telecommunication corporation at that time, according to the argument, had all the power to implement the decision of the Management Committee and the Board of Directors. Hence the appeal focused on a legal disparity between the decision of the court and the documents submitted. However, the Cassation Court rejected hearing the appeal and the decision of the lower court was upheld.    
The prosecutor filed four multiple charges against the former CEO in February 2008 before the Federal High Court’s first criminal bench, and Tesfaye has been in prison for the last four years and seven months. 
The Federal High Court first criminal bench sentenced Tesfaye Birru (PhD) to four years in jail over the charges of Ericson on February 9, 2011.  While he was already serving a four year prison over a contract bid with Ericson, the Federal High Court 15th criminal bench sentenced him to a five year and six month prison term in the broadband Internet case on August 24, 2011. 
Previously,  Tesfaye was acquitted in the case known as Lucent and in charges in connection to a billing system purchase contract. In this case he was charged for changing the billing system and being the cause for the loss of several bills during the transfer. In this charge it was also argued that when the new system was introduced the country of origin of some materials was not congruent with the contract.
After the court heard Tesfaye’s argument citing the introduction of the new billing system was timely and part of the modernization process of the country’s telecommunication system and the newly introduced Ushacom system replaced the old AS 400 system that can not process more than seven digits, the court acquitted him.
The court also rejected the 1.54 billion birr claim as a potential revenue loss of the corporation due to an inappropriate project bid award. The court ruled that one cannot be found guilty based on potential revenue loss.
Tesfaye completed his PhD study in 2010 while serving his prison term.    
The Prison Police wrote a letter to the Federal High Court first criminal bench concerning his good behavior during his stay in prison. Similar letters from the AAU, Telecommunication Information Technology College and others were also attached. After graduating in Mathematics with a Bachelor of Science degree from Addis Ababa University (AAU) in distinction, Tesfaye received a Pfizer Award at Sheffield University when he completed his MA with great distinction.
After winning a Fulbright student scholarship award, competing against many African contenders, Tesfaye conducted a research program at the University of Texas, Houston. He also studied software networking development for six months in Japan. When he served as head of the AAU post graduate information science section, he headed the installation of the computer networking for the university.