Late friday, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn gave a brief response to UK prime minister David cameron who pleaded for the life of imprisoned rebel leader Andargachew Tsege.
Mr. Cameron has reportedly “written personally” to Desalegn requesting that Mr Tsege be saved from death penalty. In response to local media questions, Mr Desalegn said he can not “interfere with the legal proceedings” facing Tsege in Ethiopia.
Mr Desalegn also revealed that the prosecution has received “new and updated evidence” that Mr Tsege and his Ginbot7 organization is actively engaged in terrorist activities against the Ethiopian government. He is reportedly referring to a recent article by US based website “Ethiomedia” which interviewed Ginbot7 Chairman Berhanu Nega this week. Mr Berhanu told Ethiomedia that Ginbot7 is training its militia in Eritrea in order to fight the Ethiopian government.
Desalegn said Tsege has been given a defense lawyer, though his chances of winning are “very low.” But Mr Desalegn advised London to “review its policy” of giving asylum and rewarding citizenship to individuals and groups engaged in violent anti-goverment activities in Africa. He mentioned the ONLF rebel group example, whose leadership resides in the city suburbs of London. In 2007, ONLF rebels in southeast Ethiopia admitted murdering over 70 Ethiopian and chinese mine workers. Over the years, the ONLF rebels have also been accused of assassinating many somali-Ethiopians and bombings that killed civilians, including children. The Ogaden-Somali community in London provides most of the funding for ONLF rebels.
Mr Desalegn said Mr Tsege might still become eligible for reduced prison sentence (presidential pardon) in 2015 if the court decides to convict him.