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Swedes jailed in Ethiopia could get life: expert

TT/Rebecca Martin · 9 Sep 2011, 08:43

Published: 09 Sep 2011 08:43 GMT+02:00

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”Terrorism crimes can give you life imprisonment in Ethiopia and sometimes even a death sentence is issued but is very rarely carried out,” said Kjetil Tronvoll, professor at the International Law and Policy Institute in Oslo and expert on Ethiopian legislation.

Photographer Johan Persson and reporter Martin Schibbye, both freelancers, have been held in jail since they were arrested with Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) rebels, who are opposed to the Ethiopian government.

Fighting broke out between the rebels and Ethiopian troops, killing 15 and injuring six, including the journalists, who suffered gunshot wounds.

The two Swedes have been held since their arrest in the beginning of July. According to Tronvoll the situation isn't looking great for them.

That they entered the country illegally and ventured into Ogaden which is off limits was bad enough, but what is the most serious, according to Tronvoll, is that they were following the ONLF guerilla..

There is also an image of Johan Persson holding an automatic weapon.

”With the information that we have received everything points to a conviction,” said Tronvoll.

Another circumstance that makes it harder for the Swedes is that they are being charged together with two members of the guerilla, arrested at the same time.

”This ties them closer to ONLF and their activities,” Tronvoll said.

But Tronvoll thinks it is still possible that the two Swedes could be pardoned by the government.

”What usually happens is that you serve some time in prison, perhaps two years, before being pardoned by the president,” Tronvoll said.

According to Tronvoll there are some in the Etiopan regime who definitely didn't wish for this case to be brought forward.

At the same time the Ethiopian authorities have long had problems with press trying to enter Ogaden and there are therefore some who want to make an example of this case and show that ”enough is enough”.

According to Kjell Persson, the jailed Johan Persson's father, the two reporters are upset with the footage that is being used as evidence against them.

Story continues below…

”It is manipulated,” Persson said to TT.

Persson also said that the two reporter are adamant that the footage was not shot in Ogaden but in Somalia.

”And it is not ONLF that is featured but their own security guards,” Persson claimed.

The two reporters are eager to fight for their rights and for press freedom, according to Kjell Persson, who says the two are still in good spirits.

Persson also said he had been informed that the two would be moved on Thursday from the detention centre in Addis Ababa to Kality prison on the outskirts of the capital.

TT/Rebecca Martin (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

09:53 September 9, 2011 by truthworthy
Well that is what you get when you come from a weak country that can't defend the freedom of journalism and the rights of its citizens. Sweden again shows really weakness here. Ethiopia is a dictatorship that survives on Europe's aid.

Sweden should have made clear that they will not tolerate this. Now Ethiopia realized how weak Sweden is and they will go forward with this.

Sweden it is too late for you but not for the EU. Ask the EU powerhouses to help you and demand the release of these journalists immediately.
12:00 September 9, 2011 by The_Truthisbitter
@Trustworthy, I share your compassion for these journalists..but what makes you think regimes in the AU are kids whom EU powerhouses can just DEMAND things and get them done IMMEDIATELY . Such suggestions only make matters difficult for these Swedes because they might now be victims of a power tussle between powers at different ends of the political divide. BTW We do not even know the details of the case and cannot blame the ethiopian government or give credit to the swedish journalists. Thats the bitter truth
16:35 September 9, 2011 by graceolsson
we don´t have many clear informations about that case.

First at all, I don´t advice nobody enters in a country WITHOUT A VISA. IT´S International Law.

Doesn´t matter if is a journalist or a common citizen.

I´ve done some works as photographer in Africa, entering in refugee center, after conflicts in Somalia, Rwanda, Mozambique, Zimbabwe. But I knew that I could be in big trouble when I crossed the border from Mozambique to Zimbabwe without a visa...in the midle of the night...It was luck. At the moment, I´m giving up these behaviors.

I wish them all the best.
21:39 September 9, 2011 by Munir Ahmed
Confiscated video shown on national TV (not by Swedish media, why?!) shows the "reporters" learning how to shoot AK-47 with help from the terrorists!

Nowadays calling yourself a reporter is license to do anything...Ridiculous!

Ogaden (ONLF) Islamic terrorist massacres, ignored by $$$ hungry Swedish reporters:




11:23 September 10, 2011 by Twiz
They could have shot and killed them "accidentally" during the gun battle.......but they DIDN'T .......
18:23 September 10, 2011 by suckfist
WWSD? What would Sweden do?

If there were Somali "journalists" in Sweden, they'd be worshiped for enriching diversity. Never jailed.
03:20 September 11, 2011 by Free_Ogaden
This is absolutely ridiculous the authoritarian regime of Meles Zenawi cannot get away with silencing these journalists. The injustice in the Ogaden has gone on for far too long these brave journalist tried to do what many were too afraid to do which is to show the world the brutality and crimes against humanity taking place in the Ogaden.

The Swedish government cannot tolerate this and must take necessary action to bring these brave men back home. Free Ogaden and the journalist!
18:18 September 18, 2011 by AdamVikingen
The fun thing about this case is the fact that they where out to report about burnt down villages, these villages was burnt down by "Lundin Oil" witch they said "Had bought" these small villages to make room to dig oil.

And now comes the fun facts, the person who now here in Sweden is in charged for this subject is our Foreign-minister, Carl Bildt, who at the time when these reporters was taken, was one of the owners of "Lundin Oil"!

So if he helps them to get out and back to Sweden then they in turn can show up all the crimes that "Lundin Oil" has done to the people living in the rural country of Etiopia. Or he could just leave them in prison...what do you think he will do?
16:18 September 29, 2011 by T.M
Two American Hikers?

Two Swedish Journalists?

But many, many Ethiopians are tortured daily in detention and without charge.

Two American hikers, Shane Baur and Josh Fattal, were in Iranian jail since 2009 and were released few days ago. Iran has a practice of throwing in jail any who threatened or challenged its authority. Two Swedish journalists, Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye, have been in Ethiopian jail since July this year on charges of terrorism, among others.

If you thought of Iran and Ethiopia as too far apart, think again. Ethiopia, like Iran is known for "government opponents being taken from their homes" and of "widespread arbitrary detention, torture, 'disappearances', harsh prison conditions, and use of excessive force by police and soldiers" according to Human Rights Watch, local and international chapters. No one really has count of prisoners of conscience and the disappeared in Ethiopia. Unlike Iran, Ethiopia served as a depot for Bush Admnistration's extraordinary renditions or what others have preferred to call "torture by proxy." For participating, the US and Britain paid the ruling minority in Ethiopia quite handsomely and looked the other way as it committed wanton aggression against its citizens, as it stifled democracy and illicitly transferred billions to banks in the US and Britain.

The jailing of the two Swedes may be a blessing in disguise. May be now the world [especially Sweden, Norway, etc] would realize the reality of arbitrary jailings and tortures going on in Ethiopian prisons. We also remember how pressure put on the ruling minority in Ethiopia by Sweden over Ms. Birtukan's illegal detention brought threats of embassy closure by Prime Minister Meles.

In another context, school violence in the US never was a serious issue and has always been associated with urban black youth in run-down schools. The problem only got public/national attention when it hit Columbine High [a white middle-class neighborhood].

Perhaps now arbitrary imprisonment and torture of Ethiopian journalists [for criticizing the government for engaging in unethical and unlawful method of collecting money for dam projects, etc] could be looked at differently. May be this time the betrayal of democratic causes and fear-mongering by PM Meles's government will receive scrutiny and censure.

Free Eskinder Nega, Ms. Reeyot Alemu and all prisoners of conscience!!

Source: http://etrecycler.blogspot.com/2011/09/worst-place-to-be-woman.html
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