Ethiopian Former Information Minister Sentenced to 6 Years for Corruption

By Staff Reporter

Bereket-Simon-SentencedMay 8, 2020 (Ezega.com) -- The Amhara Regional State Supreme Court of Ethiopia on Friday sentenced former Information minister, Bereket Simon, and a close ally of late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to six years in jail on charges of corruption.

Bereket Simon was detained along with Tadesse Kassa, a former high-level official of the country, in January 2019 on suspicion of corruption while managing TIRET Corporate, one of the Amhara ruling party mega-corporate, running 14 businesses.

Early this week, the court has ruled that both suspects were guilty of corruption charges and adjourned judgment for today (Friday).  

Bereket was found guilty on two counts while Tadesse was blamed on three counts of the four charges against them. A third co-defendant, businessman Daniel Gizaw, was cleared off all the charges and freed.

The court sentenced Taddesse Kassa to eight years of imprisonment.

The court also fined both defendants 10,000 and 15,000 Ethiopian Birr, respectively, and the sentence could be appealed.

According to the charges, the ex-officials inflicted a loss over one million Birr for poorly managing and selling 51 percent share of Dashen Brewery, one of the companies owned by TIRET corporate, to a UK firm.

Berket Simon was an influential politician within the ruling Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) especially during the era of former PM Meles Zenawi.

He was arrested in January 2019 at his residence in Addis Ababa and taken to Bahirdar, the capital of the Amhara region, where he had served as an executive committee member of Amhara National Democratic Movement, the former governing party of the region.

Bereket was often described as one of the chief architects of the political ideologue of EPRDF which led the country for 27 years until April 2018.

He also served as Minister of Information, Government Communication Affairs Minister, and advisor to the Prime Minister.

Some observers believe the arrest and subsequent sentencing of Bereket Simon are politically motivated because there are so many former officials who may have been involved in various schemes and abuse of power and are still walking free and, in some cases, still in government circles.

The EPRDF was re-branded and restructured as the Prosperity Party under the leadership of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, excluding the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) as a member.

In another news, Ethiopia reported three news cases of the coronavirus out of 1, 861 samples taken on Friday.

All the confirmed cases are Ethiopia nationals aged between 23-33 years and did not have travel experience abroad, according to a statement obtained from the Ethiopian Ministry of Health.

Two people have also recovered from the virus in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of recoveries to 95, the statement added.

The total number of confirmed cases in Ethiopia is now 194, with an overall test count of 30,306. The country has so far 4 deaths from the virus.

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