Addis Ababa (ANN) The sentencing is likely to cause outcry in Sweden, where last week’s guilty verdicts provoked anger in Swedish media amid accusations the case had taken on a political dimension. An Ethiopian court sentenced two Swedish journalists onlast Tuesday to 11 years in prison for helping and promoting the outlawed Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) rebel group and entering the country illegally, a judge said.
Kjell Persson (R) and Christina Persson (C), parents of Swedish photographer Johan Persson and Swedish ambassador to Ethiopia Jens Odlander (R), stand outside the courtroom in Ethiopia’s
capital Addis Ababa, December 21, 2011. (Photo: Reuters)
Reporter Martin Schibbye and photographer Johan Persson were arrested in July after they entered Ethiopia’s Ogaden province from Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region with a team of ONLF fighters.
“The court has sentenced both defendants to 11 years. We have heard both cases … and we believe this is an appropriate sentence,” Judge Shemsu Sirgaga told the court.
Both journalists looked at the judge without expression as the sentence was being read out and then translated by their defence lawyer, a witness said. No family members were present.
The journalists’ lawyer said his clients were weighing the option of an appeal, but that for now there was no talk of pleading for clemency.
“We are only talking about the possibility of appealing for the time being, which follows judicial procedure,” defence lawyer Sileshi Ketsela told Reuters.