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Swedish journalists faced Ethiopian court: ministry

The two Swedish reporters arrested while travelling in the Ogaden province of Ethiopia in the beginning of the month have already faced a judge, according to information from Swedish and Ethiopian officials.

Swedish journalists faced Ethiopian court: ministry

“We only received the information yesterday and at the moment we don’t know why it took so long for them to tell us or the embassy,” Linn Duvhammar at the Foreign Ministry’s information department told The Local.

The Swedish journalists Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson were arrested and injured in the closed border area Ogaden, on July 1st, when caught in a battle between Ethiopian government forces and the ONLF guerilla.

The journalists entered Ethiopia illegally together with the rebels, who are classed as terrorists by the regime. Following their arrest, the pair was taken to a detention centre in the city Jijiga, where they were permitted to meet briefly with Swedish ambassador Jens Odlander.

After many conflicting reports as to where they were being held, the pair was subsequently moved to Addis Ababa.

According to Duvhammar, it wasn’t until Wednesday that the ministry found out about the early remand hearing, following a meeting between Swedish embassy representatives and Ethiopian officials.

It was then revealed that a preliminary remand hearing had been conducted as early as July 6th in Jijiga, prior to the move of the two Swedish reporters to Addis Ababa.

The ministry had previously been told that no such hearing had taken place.

According to the ministry, an additional remand hearing has now been scheduled for the 20th of July. The ministry are planning to have suitable legal representation for the two Swedes by then.

“They will have a lawyer at the next hearing. Staff at the embassy are working to get someone to represent them,” Duvhammar told The Local.

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H&M

Fashion retailer H&M plans Ethiopia expansion

Swedish fashion retailer Hennes and Mauritz (H&M) said Friday it would expand its network of suppliers to Ethiopia, after concentrating 80 percent of its production in Asian countries.

Fashion retailer H&M plans Ethiopia expansion

“We are an expansive company and are constantly looking at new potential purchasing markets to guarantee that we have capacity to deliver products to all stores in our expansive markets,” H&M spokeswoman Camilla Emilsson-Falk told AFP.

“We do that by increasing the productivity on the existing production markets as well as looking at new markets,” she added.

Test orders have been placed with Ethiopian suppliers and new factories will be built this autumn, but it is too early to say how many suppliers will be used and when the factories will be ready for production, according to Emilsson-Falk.

The East African country has had a long history in textile, leather and shoe production since its Italian occupation in 1939. Other apparel retailers have already begun sourcing products in the country, including Tesco and Chinese shoe-manufacturer Huajian, providing footwear to Guess and Tommy Hilfiger.

“Ethiopia is a country with strong development and we trust that we can sustain economic growth and job opportunities there,” said Emilsson-Falk.

Despite strong economic growth, 9.9 percent on yearly average since 2004 according to the World Bank, the sub-Saharan nation remains one of the world’s

poorest. And one year after the death of prime minister Meles Zenawi, the country is still criticised for its lack of human rights by watchdog organisations.

“We did an extensive risk analysis for Ethiopia, looking at human rights and environmental issues in the country,” said Emilsson-Falk.

“We have worked with improvement of working conditions in our production countries for many years and will apply our experience when establishing relationships with the Ethiopian suppliers.”

H&M, which has stores in Egypt and Morocco, has no concrete plans for further expansion in Africa.

Two Swedish journalists who were kept in jail for 14 months in the country were released in September 2012.

TT/AFP/The Local/pvs

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