Ethiopia-British leader on death row ‘might’ escape execution: government

Andargachew TsegeAn Ethiopian opposition leader with British citizenship on death row will not be pardoned but might escape execution, the government said Thursday, after reports he was struggling in solitary confinement.

Andargachew Tsege, 60, the leader of the outlawed Ginbot 7 group and who was granted political asylum in Britain, was convicted in absentia in 2009 for terrorism, and was imprisoned a year ago after being controversially extradited from Yemen.

“Death sentences are very rarely carried out by the court in Ethiopia. His sentence might be commuted to life imprisonment, but he won’t be pardoned, he won’t be released,” government spokesman Shimeles Kemal told AFP.

“He is an incorrigible criminal and a recidivist who tried to overthrow the Ethiopian government, plant bombs and who organized unrest after the 2005 elections.”

Ethiopia accuses him of also training opposition groups in neighbouring long-term foe Eritrea.

Andargachew, known as Andy, was arrested on June 2014 in Yemen’s Sanaa airport en route to Eritrea, and controversially extradited to Addis Ababa, an action criticised by Britain for being in defiance of international law.

Britain is one of Ethiopia’s largest donors, with development aid totalling some 303 million pounds (482 million dollars, 422 million euros) for the period 2015-2016.

The British ambassador to Ethiopia last saw him on April 24, the third visit permitted to diplomats since his imprisonment.

A report this week by London’s The Independent newspaper quoted a Foreign Office report of the meeting, in which it said Andargachew is being held in solitary confinement.

“Andargachew looks physically in reasonable shape but has health concerns. And he appears in a bad place psychologically. No evidence of mistreatment, other than the solitary nature of his confinement,” the report read, according to The Independent.

The report left his wife, who is looking after their three children, at “breaking point”, the newspaper added.

London has requested he be moved to a normal jail.

“The Foreign Secretary is extremely concerned about Andargachew Tsege’s continued detention. That is why he has raised his case with the Ethiopian Foreign Minister on 13 separate occasions,” a Foreign Office spokesman said.

“We will continue to lobby at all levels, conveying our concern over Andargachew Tsege being detained without regular consular visits and access to a lawyer.”

Rights groups have criticised Ethiopia’s anti-terrorism law, accusing the government of using it to silence dissent and curb freedom of expression.

The Ginbot 7 group is considered a terrorist organisation under Ethiopian law. Its name commemorates the Ethiopian calendar date — May 15 in the Gregorian calendar — when post-election violence in 2005 left over 200 people dead.

  • Kalekidan Kidane

    Andy tried to topple gov of Ethiopia via arm struggle by using Eritrea as base so he is absolutely criminal.

    • Gasha Tessema

      Criminal or not criminal why don’t you leave the matter to international court for criminals ICC. Innocent until proven guilty. No, you guys do not even subscribe to this. Do you? The whole world does. Moreover, Like it or not Andy is now a british citizen and according to international law TPLF ought to have asked for Andy’s extradition from the British Government. Only then, if the British Government sees it fit that he can be tried in Ethiopia, TPLF has the right to try him in Ethiopia. TPLF should not rendition a British citizen because it is illegal. TPLF can not arrest a British Citizen where ever the British citizen is other than Ethiopia. Put it this way TPLF can not sentence him and Andy will be back in Britain shortly. You just wait and see. You can tell your masters they can then Apply for his arrest at the ICC. I will accept ICCs decision.

      • Defar Sebay

        @gashatessema:disqus Lets forget Andargachew’s plan to topple down the current government in illegal way. Do not you think he is criminal for trespassing Ethiopian’s pure culture of respecting the dead. Andagachew had the gut and the chance to say that if given the opportunity to through the bones of PM Meles out of his grave in the Silase Cathedral. Had Andergachew not been inhuman /subhuman full of hatred, he would not have uttered such evil things. If he can say so for the dead, you can imagine what he would do for those who are alive!!whom he considers is fighting to beat? He is abhorrent criminal, cruel, barbaric!!!!!!!!!!!!! He should have been born in the dark ages!!!!!!! I am sorry for his family but he is in a situation which he deserves!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And by the way are not you a proud Ethiopian? why r u referring to ICC? Do not u think ICC cares nothing about Ethiopians? How on earth r u trying to talk something positive about ICC? I am so shamed of you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Gigu E Zeleke

      Dear Kalekidan,
      What about TPLF killing his own people in the country? Actually TPLF doesn’t have “his own people” except his cadres and supporters. According to the ICC criminals law next to Albashir all the TPLF leaders are the next to send them to Hague.
      I’m not sorry to say; they are not a human being. They are very cruel cruel cruel.
      I’m sure you know about Samuel Awoke, Tessema Wondimu and the peoples killed by TPLF in Oromia, Gambel, Ogaden and other places.
      Essey Z

  • bihon

    The West has a double standard on how it sees and treats terrorists like Andargachew. Andagachew is a creator of an armed military group stationed in neighboring Eritrea and has done this in an open manner. He had full intention to topple the current government by force if things had worked out his way. Luckily he was apprehended when he was in Yemen on his to way Eritrea. The British government knows that he is a criminal, however, it still caves in to the pressures of political interest groups and Ethiopian diaspora politicians.

  • Truth be Told

    Why don’t you fight for the friend of Jihaddy Jhon, who was detained in Ethiopia, why not also for Jihady John, All are British citizens the breeding place of Terrorists.