judge in Addis Ababa today dismissed the charges against Voice of America
reporter Meleskachew Amha and order the refund of his 15,000-birr. Eskinder
reported on today's hearings.
detained on May 27 by federal police for alleged possession of illegal
broadcasting equipment. He was held in
detention at the Customs Authority compound for 12 days before posting bail and
had been on trial for several weeks.
one of more than 30 shareholders in Addis Broadcasting Corporation, a company
formed in 1998 by Berhanu Nega and others with equipment donated by Norway to
open the first private FM radio station in Ethiopia. The station never received a government license
to broadcast. Meleskachew served as
editor of ABC's newspaper, Addis Zena, before joining VOA four years ago.
judge ruled Wednesday that the prosecution had presented no evidence that
Meleskachew was guilty of the charges.
Before his lawyer was able to defend his client, the judge dropped the
defendants in the case include Abebe Worke, who is being tried in
absentia. Abebe, who is chair of the
Ethiopian Human Rights Council and former Supreme Court justice, is in Atlanta,
Georgia, receiving medical treatment for diabetes and a heart condition,
according to his doctor. The remaining
defendants are being tried for attempting to obtain a loan using as collateral
printing equipment that they had received from Norway.