ESAT News (May 11, 2018)
The state news agency reported that federal prosecutors dropped charges against Dr. Fikru Maru, an Ethiopian born Swedish cardiologist and 61 others who have been detained for years on trumped up terrorism and other charges.
Prosecutors on Wednesday downgraded terrorism charges against Dr. Maru et al to organizing revolt at the Qilinto prison. Thirty eight inmates, including the cardiologist were accused of starting a fire at the Qilinto prison in August 2016.
A government report says 23 inmates died in the arson but independent rights groups confirmed the death of at least 67 prisoners and examination of the bodies indicate that 45 of the prisoners died from gunshot wounds. Reports indicate they were shot by prison guards as they run away from the fire.
The report by the Ethiopian News Agency that quoted the federal prosecutor said the charges against the 62 political prisoners were dropped. It however said four inmates were ordered to defend charges of manslaughter.
The court on Wednesday set eight of the prisoners free.
Most of the prisoners were put behind bars on charges of trespassing the notorious anti-terror law, accused of masterminding and/or taking part in anti-regime protests.
One of Sweden’s top cardiologist, Fiku Maru established a cardiology hospital in Addis Ababa in 2007 to help his people.
Dr. Maru has been in prison in Ethiopia since May 2013 on charges of questionable import of medical equipment to his hospital, a charge critics believe was politically motivated. After spending four years in Ethiopia’s notorious jails, he was acquitted in May 2017. But he and 38 others were charged again over a fire that broke out at the Qilinto prison.