(Oromedia, Finfinne, Nov 15, 2016) The federal first instant court Arada branch has today jailed journalist Getachew Worku, editor-in-chief of the Amharic weekly independent Newspaper, Ethio-Mihidar, for one year.
Getachew was taken into police custody last week on Nov. 4th after the same court found him guilty of ‘defaming’ senior clergy members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. The court passed the guilty verdict in an ongoing lawsuit brought against Getachew by the church.
The lawsuit followed an article the newspaper ran in May 2015 detailing the conduct of corrupt practices by senior members of the clergy at the precincts of the Saint Mary’s Patriarchal Monastery here in the capital Addis Abeba.
Getachew and his paper Ethio-Mihdar were accused of defaming the church with a news story that came out in May 2015, alleging corruption at Holy Trinity Cathedral.
The newspaper was fined 10,000 birr (475 USD) and ordered to print the verdict on the newspaper. It’s not clear however whether the newspaper will continue publishing without the presence of the editor in chief.
The defendant’s lawyer Behailu Tesfahun said the court has disregarded a mitigating argument he raised showing that neither the editor in chief nor the newspaper had intended to get a financial windfall or intend ill harm on the church, but rather wrote the story as a journalistic duty.
However Behailu said he’s going to appeal.
Subsequently, prosecutors have charged Getachew with Ethiopia’s criminal code article 613 under “defamation and spreading false information.” During the hearing last week, prosecutors have originally sought a jail term of up to three years.
Getachew was taken to the Qilinto prison on the southern outskirt of the capital where he spent the week.