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First of its kind in Ethiopia
For the first time there has been a sentence passed down regarding cyber crime in Ethiopia. Yonas Kassahun was sentenced to two years in prison and a 5,000 birr fine for hacking into a third party’s email address.
The Sixth Criminal Bench of the Federal First Instance Court, Arada District handed down the first of its kind sentence for email hacking into a third party’s computer system.
The court saw the case for over a year and half and handed down the plea guilty on October 22 and the verdict on October 27.
The revised criminal code of 2004 did include computer crime but this is the first time there has been a ruling in a computer related case, an expert said.
The decision is relevant because now there is likely to be increasing incidents of cyber hacking, especially in the financial sector.
Yonas was accused of hacking into the email of his former girlfriend Akiko Seyoum, when he was in Germany during June 2012, according to the court’s final verdict document.
The Arada Court said digital forensics indicated that the defendant hacked into the plaintiff’s email address and damaged documents that she exchanged with various companies and individuals.
The court stated that the defendant was found guilty after evaluating the two sides’ argument. The testimony was proved by the Information Network Security Agency (INSA) which in turn sent it to the Federal Police. The Agency said that on June 7, 2012 Yonas got into her email account and damaged documents from her inbox. According to INSA’s evidence the defendant removed data from the defendant’s email by hacking into her electronic address. The evidence was sent to police in January 2013 and stated that the defendant removed data from Akiko’s address and sent it to his and a third party email account.
Experts said that the current decision is the first in the nation’s judicial history.
Some cases are related to cybercrime but it is difficult to get evidence, experts said.
Previously in 2012 one case was related to the transfer and withdraw of 9.9 million birr from various bank accounts by the bank clerk of the Construction and Business Bank. It was prosecuted under article 407, which criminalizes abuse of power by public servants. Another case involved hacking the password of ATM cards but it was thrown out due to lack of evidence.
Desalegn Teresa, public relation head of the Ministry of Justice, told Capital that the current decision would be the first involving cybercrime in the country. He said that another case is also under investigation. “Other cases related with technology involving damaging or theft of the fiber optic cable for telecom service is underway,” he said.
The cybercrime is included in the 2004 penal code titled ‘crimes against rights in property’, which is a revision of the 1957 law. The penal code criminalizes four types of malicious cyber conduct; unauthorized access, causing damage to data, disrupting the use of computer services and misuse of computer devices.
Yonas’ case was also heard under article 707 (2 (a)) of the criminal code.
The penal code articles from 707 to 711 are also stated about cybercrimes and penalties.
To enforce cyber security the government formed INSA, which was established in 2006 and reestablished in 2011 by the Council of Ministers. It is the sole cyber security organ in the country with the objective of ensuring that information and computer based key infrastructures are secured.
Experts said that the country is now expanding the use of electronic payment system and strong cyber security is needed to encourage people to use the system.
Cyber crime was mentioned for the first time over a half century ago in the US