Cassation bench rejects Reeyot’s final plea

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Addis Ababa, January 8 (WIC) – The Federal Cassation Bench, the last legal resort in Ethiopia, has rejected journalist and terror convict Reeyot Alemu’s appeal.

Reeyot, a columnist for the defunct Amharic weekly Feteh newspaper and a reporter for the US based Ethiopian Review website, was sentenced to 14 years in prison and fined 33,000 birr by the Federal High Court.

The sentence was reduced to five years by the Federal Supreme Court following Reeyot’s appeal in January 2012.

Reeyot was convicted of terror charges along with Elias Kifle (in absentia), editor-in-chief of Ethiopian Review website, Zerihun Gebregziaber, chairman of Ethiopian Unity Party and Woubshet Taye, Deputy Editor of the defunct Amharic weekly Awramba Times.

The appellate court found Reeyot guilty of rendering support to terrorism; dropping two charges of conspiracy to commit acts of terror and participating in a terrorist organization. But Reeyot’s lawyer, Molla Zegeye took the case to cassation on the grounds of ‘basic error of law’.

“She was merely exercising her constitutionally guaranteed right of freedom of expression. The mere fact that she works as a reporter under Elias Kifle should not be taken as a crime. There should be no criminal liability by analogy or association,” her lawyer argued on Friday, January 4, 2013.

On Tuesday, the cassation bench dropped Reeyot’s appeal, upholding the Federal Supreme Court’s decision.     
She was found to be part of a movement whose objective was terror and her activities were not of a journalist, the court held adding that there was no error of law in the lower court’s decision.