Oct. 18 (ESAT News) Martin Schibbbye and Johan Person, who were tried and convicted of terrorism in Ethiopia, told the BBC that the trial they had faced was a joke.
“Meles Zenawi was saying on national television, three or four weeks before the trial started, that we were guilty,” they said.
The two Swedish journalists recently released from Kaliti jail noted that the jails were “200% overcrowded, very hot and lacked water.”
Schibbbye and Person said the jails were dusty and infested with rats and fleas. “Many people were sick with HIV or tuberculosis,” Johan Persson said.
Martin Schibbbye and Johan Person said the jails were dusty and infested with rats, fleas. “Many people were sick with HIV or tuberculosis,” Johan Persson told the BBC.
Both of them served more than 400 days of their 11-year sentence for “committing acts of terrorism” by supporting the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), an insurgent group operating in Eastern Ethiopia.
They maintained their innocence and insisted that they were only doing their jobs. Human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said the journalists had been prosecuted for doing legitimate work as journalists.
The Swedes claimed that they were ordered at gunpoint to take part in a film supposedly documenting their relationship with the Ogaden National Liberation Front.
“Two civilians, who we’d never seen before, were dressed up as rebels. The soldiers gave them guns and stood them in front of us, and they testified against us and said that we came with them from Somalia,” Schibbye alleges.
They pointed out that senior Ethiopian civilian officials were in charge of the filming. According to them, the director of the film was the vice president in the Somali regional state.
“In the evening the regional president called us and said, ‘We are not satisfied by your performances in the film,’” said Mr Schibbye. Eventually the film was used against them in court, according to the report.