By Yonas Abiye
Addis Ababa, June 9, 2011 (Ezega.com) – The Ethiopian Federal Supreme Court on Wednesday sentenced 14 individuals on terrorism charges from nine years to life in prison. The defendants were convicted for plotting to detonate African Union Hall and other institution in Addis Ababa.
The Supreme Court said the defendants are guilty of attempting terrorist attacks and are backed by the Eritrean government.
Earlier this year, Australia reportedly warned Ethiopia of high terror risk during 16th Ordinary Session of the African Heads of State and Government held January 30-31 in Addis Ababa.
However a few days earlier to the warning, Ethiopia had already made public that it had thwarted a “terrorist plot”.
According to the court, 14 “Eritrean-sent terrorists”, who were in possession of large amount of powerful explosives, were plotting to detonate bombs in the capital targeting the African Union Hall, and other government and non-government institutions.
The Ministry of Justice said that the 14 plotters have taken two rounds of training in Eritrea on bomb detonation and explosives, and they were serving as messenger boys for the Eritrean government and the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF).
The Ministry of Justice also indicated that the suspects were arrested by the anti-terrorist taskforce while allegedly trying to enter the Afar region of Ethiopia through a place called Gura’ale.
According to the police statement released in January, the suspects were allegedly trained, armed and infiltrated into Ethiopia by the Eritrean regime.
In the latest verdict ruled by the court, four of the defendant received life in prison, and six of them were given 25 years in prison and five-year ban from social rights.
Similarly, one defendant received 14 year in prison and four-year ban from public rights, and the rest three received nine-year prison term and four years ban from public right.
The court also ruled for the confiscation of all plotters’ properties.
Meanwhile Ethiopian government announced that it would open its door for any international community and right groups if they want any information and evidence concerning the conviction of the said plotters.
Ethiopian usually accuses neighboring Eritrea for such kind of activities, which Eritrea always denies
Last month Prime Minister Meles Zenawi told parliament that the Eritrean government has trained and armed Ethiopian rebel groups for a “terror” mission.
PM Meles also usually accuses Eritrea of being a major destabilizing factor and stumbling block to peace in the region.
He went on to say that Eritrea is also arming and sending “terrorists” into Djibouti soil to create sabotage ahead of country’s April elections.
In 2009, the UN Security Council imposed sanctions on Eritrea, accusing the red sea nation of backing Islamist insurgents in Somalia.
The resolution places an arms embargo on Eritrea, and also imposes travel bans and asset freezes on businesses and individuals.
Yonas Abiye is Addis Ababa based reporter for Ezega.com. He can be reached by sending email through this form.