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Jailed Swedish reporters will not appeal verdict

Published: 10 Jan 2012 16:07 GMT+01:00

“There is a tradition of pardon and forgiveness in Ethiopia and we choose to put our trust in this tradition,” Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson said in a short statement after reaching their decision.

The deadline to appeal the verdict lapsed at 3pm CET on Tuesday. As neither the prosecutors nor the Swedes have filed an appeal, the sentence will come into force on Wednesday.

According to the two reporters' contact person, Anna Roxwall, they delayed their decision to give the prosecutors as little time as possible to lodge an appeal.

"They have been making up lists for and against. They have also been consulting people who know how this works. And it is a decision that family and friends support. We think it is a good decision," Roxwall told daily Dagens Nyheter (DN).

Reporter Martin Schibbye and photographer Johan Persson were arrested in Ethiopia's Ogaden region on July 1st in the company of rebels from the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) after entering Ethiopia from Somalia.

Both journalists had admitted contact with the ONLF and to entering Ethiopia illegally, but rejected terrorism charges, which included accusations that they had received weapons training.

Persson said their meeting the ONLF contacts had been for professional reasons only, as part of an investigation into the activities of Swedish oil company Lundin Oil.

In December Persson and Schibbye were convicted by the Ethiopian court and sentenced to 11 years imprisonment. It was not known until the very last minute whether they would appeal or not.

For a pardoning process to commence, the two Swedes will have to pen a letter to the Ethiopian prime minister Meles Zenawi, according to DN.

They will also need to confess in writing and apologize for entering the country illegally and being in contact with the ONLF.

However, this decision does not change the Swedish government's and foreign ministry's attitude to the verdict.

"We will continue to give support and the aim is to have the two Swedish journalists released," said Anders Jörle of the foreign ministry's information service to DN.

The Local/AFP (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

17:37 January 10, 2012 by T.M
Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson: Special Assignment

We suggested in an earlier post that you should go ahead and ask Meles Zenawi for "pardon". By asking for pardon you also win. Think of it this way: Meles has no choice but to pardon you. The other day Bengt Nilsson [the Swedish reporter who embedded with Meles Zenawi's guerrilla group in late-1980s] said that "Ethiopian culture is very different from Sweden, and there's a custom to accept that you are guilty as a prisoner and then appeal for pardon." He is right in that Ethiopian culture is different from Swedish. Every one is aware of that. Our problem is with the latter part of the statement; it is not our custom to abuse someone and demand a pardon. Mr. Meles is once again using a cherished value to suit his diabolic purposes - that is, humiliate someone and pretend justice is running its course and then making a big entrance as pardoner. Read more here in ETHIOPIAN RECYCLER
23:59 January 10, 2012 by be reasonable
hmmm,Well the point is that they have to accept that they have taken part in the charges they are accused of.Otherwise,they wouldn't be granted the pardon they are hallucinating.To be granted pardon,one; you have to admit your guilt, two;you have to formal request pardon explaining that u are regretting with what u did.That time the pardon works.I am one of those who will oppose if they are pardoned with out the formal process.ETHIOPIA IS A SOVEREIGN COUNTRY!...
03:53 January 11, 2012 by Munir Ahmed
FACTS ABOUT "INDEPENDENT REPORTER" MR. SCHIBBEY:

Mr. Schibbey used to be the editor for the magazine "Rebell", the official paper of "RKU", Sweden's Revolutionary Communist Party's youth organisation. Communism á la Marxism Leninism.

Mr. Schibbey and his comrades declared that Sweden only can be reformed by revolution, armed revolution if necessary, and that Stalin's murderous campaigns, terrors equalling Hitler's, were mere fabrications of the ruling class and thus untrue.

As for the concept of democracy, Mr. Schibbey and "RKU" proclaimed that the dictatorship of the proletariat is the ultimate form of democracy.

Obviously Mr. Schibbey deserves a fair trial; nonetheless it seems ironic that Mr. Schibbey now is on the receiving end of a totalitarian Marxist Leninist state's legal system.
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