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Evidence in Ethiopia trial 'faked': lawyer

The Local/rm · 5 Dec 2011, 08:26

Published: 05 Dec 2011 08:26 GMT+01:00

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“Martin and Johan have told me very decidedly that they had never seen these two guys before. Not during any stage of their journey did they meet these two individuals. They turned up the day after the arrest,” defence lawyer Thomas Olsson told daily Dagens Nyheter (DN).

The trial against Swedish reporters Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson, arrested in July in the Ogaden province of Ethiopia on the border of Somalia, an area deemed off-limits by the regime, resumes on Monday.

The two Swedes, who are adamant they are not guilty of the terrorism allegations against them, are facing lengthy prison sentences if convicted.

Schibbye and Persson were charged alongside two guerrilla soldiers who allegedly helped them enter the Ogaden area from neighbouring Somalia. The guerrillas have already been convicted and sentenced to 17 years in prison.

However, according to Olsson, the two Swedes claimed never to have seen the two men until a few days following their arrest.

According to DN, the two guerrilla soldiers have been very important to the prosecutor’s case, as their presence in the courtroom tied the two Swedes to the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), a separatist rebel group fighting to make Ogaden an independent state.

But even before the two soldiers were convicted, foreign diplomats present in the courtroom feared that theirs was a mock trial.

The men had nothing to say to their defence and allegedly looked happy and relaxed as they left the courtroom to be taken back to prison.

If the two guerrilla soldiers were not connected to Schibbye and Persson, it is not the first time that the prosecution's evidence has been tampered with.

Story continues below…

In November, prosecutors were forced to admit that footage used as evidence against the Swedes had been edited and gun shots added to the audio, were the Swedes are holding rifles, to indicate they were participating in weapons training.

“Sadly this just strengthens our suspicions that there is a political agenda behind this trial, aside from the legal process,” Olsson told DN.

The Local/rm (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

21:15 December 5, 2011 by kynan
not only the trail is fake but whole administration is.

those two poor guys were in jail for the last five with thousands of civilians in Jail-Ogaden,Jigjiiga and the regime call them captured "guerrilla soldiers'.
22:47 December 5, 2011 by star10
The current Ethiopian government is known for mock trials. Just look at the number of opposition politicians and journalists in prison with long sentences.
23:06 December 5, 2011 by Amha
This trial shows how MELESES regimes is criminal and how Ethiopians are in grate suffering in Ethiopia!
01:20 December 6, 2011 by nathan45
Nice to see they appreciate all the forign aid.
21:08 December 6, 2011 by Mamama
We noticed that all those ''small-minded" comments by 'big' Swedes people like Olsson are components of the pychological war pushing the Ethiopian government to drop the case without fair trial. This will not happen. This is a case of plain crime. Nothing to be politicized.
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