World Watch Monitor

Three Ethiopians do not now have to pay compensation for a church which, in January, they were acquitted of charges of destroying.

All Protestant Christians, the three men - Tibebu Mekuria, Dawit Jemberu, and Belete Tilahun were freed on 18th January after a Supreme Court judge acquitted them on 13th January.

The three had been falsely convicted and imprisoned for burning down an Ethiopian Orthodox Church (EOC) building. Although witnesses said the men were not near the building at the time of the fire and the single prosecution witness gave inconsistent testimony, a judge found all three guilty on 28th October, 2014, with sentences of up to nine years in prison each.

They were finally acquitted after almost three years of delays, but have only now been released from a separate court order made in July, 2016, to pay for damages to the church.

Sources in Ethiopia report that the court yesterday, 2nd May, dropped the compensation charges, cancelling the government’s hold on Mr Tilahun’s property and bank account. “All three are extremely relieved over this outcome”, World Watch Monitor was told.