A 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.
Meleskachew 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.
He was 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.
The 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 charges.
Other 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.