EU and US Law makers seek Birtukan Mideksa’s release

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Ethiopia’s High Court will on Thursday rule in a case in which opposition leader Birtukan Mideksa has been charged with treason, following the government’s decision to revive a 2005 treason case in which she was convicted and later jailed for life.

The opposition leader, who defied the authorities in early December 2008 after she was asked to disown a statement she made while on a tour of Europe – that her pardon about a year ago was a result of political negotiations and not a favour from government – will know her fate on Thursday.

Sources close to her political party, Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ), said that the former judge, who led a vibrant opposition alliance in the run up to the 2005 elections, would stand before a bench on Thursday for the ruling in her case on the revived treason charges.

She was accused of fomenting violence after Ethiopia’s 2005 general elections and sent to jail after the judges found her guilty of inciting the violence.

She and senior members of her party were however released in September 2007, after they reportedly signed a plea regretting the crime.

But Mideksa was re-arrested and sent to prison on 28 December 2008, after she failed to report to the Addis Ababa Police Commission to deny her reported slur on the conditions of her release.

The European Union Parliament and senior American Congressmen and Senators have recently written to the Ethiopian government to ask for her release.

Ethiopian Communications Affairs Minister Birket Simon said foreign governments must stop meddling in Ethiopia’s internal affairs, and rebuffed the claims that the government was using the case to mistreat opposition rivals.

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