Tag Archives: Ethiopian jail

Ethiopia-British leader on death row ‘might’ escape execution: government


An Ethiopian opposition leader with British citizenship on death row will not be pardoned but might escape execution, the government said Thursday, after reports he was struggling in solitary confinement.
Andargachew Tsege, 60, the leader of the outlawed Ginbot 7 group and who was granted political asylum in Britain, was convicted in absentia in 2009 for terrorism, and was imprisoned a year ago after being controversially extradited from Yemen.


“Death sentences are very rarely carried out by the court in Ethiopia. His sentence might be commuted to life imprisonment, but he won’t be pardoned, he won’t be released,” government spokesman Shimeles Kemal told AFP.
“He is an incorrigible criminal and a recidivist who tried to overthrow the Ethiopian government, plant bombs and who organized unrest after the 2005 elections.”
Ethiopia accuses him of also training opposition groups in neighbouring long-term foe Eritrea.
Andargachew, known as Andy, was arrested on June 2014 in Yemen’s Sanaa airport en route to Eritrea, and controversially extradited to Addis Ababa, an action criticised by Britain for being in defiance of international law.
Britain is one of Ethiopia’s largest donors, with development aid totalling some 303 million pounds (482 million dollars, 422 million euros) for the period 2015-2016.
The British ambassador to Ethiopia last saw him on April 24, the third visit permitted to diplomats since his imprisonment.
A report this week by London’s The Independent newspaper quoted a Foreign Office report of the meeting, in which it said Andargachew is being held in solitary confinement.
“Andargachew looks physically in reasonable shape but has health concerns. And he appears in a bad place psychologically. No evidence of mistreatment, other than the solitary nature of his confinement,” the report read, according to The Independent.
The report left his wife, who is looking after their three children, at “breaking point”, the newspaper added.
London has requested he be moved to a normal jail.
“The Foreign Secretary is extremely concerned about Andargachew Tsege’s continued detention. That is why he has raised his case with the Ethiopian Foreign Minister on 13 separate occasions,” a Foreign Office spokesman said.
“We will continue to lobby at all levels, conveying our concern over Andargachew Tsege being detained without regular consular visits and access to a lawyer.”
Rights groups have criticised Ethiopia’s anti-terrorism law, accusing the government of using it to silence dissent and curb freedom of expression.
The Ginbot 7 group is considered a terrorist organisation under Ethiopian law. Its name commemorates the Ethiopian calendar date — May 15 in the Gregorian calendar — when post-election violence in 2005 left over 200 people dead.

Andy Tsege: Fears grow over state of mind of British activist who languishes in Ethiopian jail


Fears are growing for the state of mind of a British father of three who has languished in a secret jail in Ethiopia for almost a year.


Andargachew “Andy” Tsege, who has been sentenced to death, reportedly told the British ambassador during a rare visit: “Seriously, I am happy to go – it would be preferable and more humane.”
Next week marks the first anniversary of Mr Tsege, a leading opponent of the Ethiopian regime, being imprisoned during a trip to Africa.
Amid growing concerns for the 60-year-old Briton’s well-being, he was visited by ambassador Greg Dorey on in April.
A report of the ambassador’s visit was sent to Mr Tsege’s partner, Yemi Hailemariam, the mother of their three children.

The details it contains, combined with a lack of any progress since the visit was made, have left her at “breaking point” she told The Independent yesterday.
Ms Hailemariam was warned by Sarah Winter, head of country casework at the Foreign Office: “Some bits of this report will be distressing. Please make sure you read it when you’ve got good support around you.”
The visit was not held in the jail where Mr Tsege is being kept in solitary confinement, and took place in front of security officials. “Andargachew looks physically in reasonable shape but has health concerns. And he appears in a bad place psychologically. No evidence of mistreatment, other than the solitary nature of his confinement,” states the report.

Mr Dorey recalls Mr Tsege commenting: “Seriously, I am happy to go – it would be preferable and more humane. I said I doubted the government would wish to execute him and that in any event we would lobby strongly against this as a matter of principle.”
Mr Tsege saw no reason to stay alive, according to the report. “He was aware of the wider debate on euthanasia and could ask for this: it would relieve the pain,” it adds.
Mr Tsege, who is in solitary confinement, also told the ambassador that prison guards feared he might harm himself but he had not attempted this.

Mr Tsege’s partner Yemi, who lives in north London, described her shock at seeing the report: “The FCO had told me the content of the readout, I was sad but it does not compare to how I felt when I saw it in black and white. I was very devastated.”
Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond has written to his Ethiopian counterpart to warn that relations between Britain and Ethiopia would be jeopardised if anything happened to Mr Tsege. He is understood to have called for the Briton to be transferred to a normal prison, be allowed regular visits and be treated by a doctor.
But Ms Hailemariam said: “Now we are two months later and nothing has changed. I am at a breaking point… What is it about this case that does not make the ambassador be absolutely outraged that he is being treated the way he is by the Ethiopian government? What is it about us as a family that makes it so not worth it for the Foreign Secretary to change tack and just ‘keep raising it’ without any substantive result?”
Pressure is building on the Government to demand the release of Mr Tsege. The case is being looked at by Juan Mendez, the UN special rapporteur on torture. And Reprieve is calling for the Briton to be freed and returned to the UK.