A member of an Ethiopian opposition movement banned by the Ethiopian regime has been acquitted of all charges of terrorism following a 3 week trial at Snaresbrook Crown Court. Tadesse Kersmo is a member of Ginbot 7 (now Patriotic Ginbot 7), set up after the 2005 elections when all those who won seats for the opposition were not allowed to take up their seats. Faced with persecution and false allegations he and his wife fled Ethiopia and sought asylum in the UK.
The persecution did not end and Dr Kersmo had malicious spyware infected onto his computer while he sought sanctuary in the UK. Despite informing the British police of his work in 2013, Dr Kersmo was arrested in January 2017 for possession of documents. The British jury took only 2 hours to acquit Dr Kersmo, clearly accepting his account that he had documents for research to assist with his campaign of civic disobedience.
Kate Goold, Partner of Bindmans LLP representing Dr Kersmo said:
The Ethiopian regime is a totalitarian anti-democratic state which has a horrific record of human rights abuses, suppression of the opposition and free speech violations. It is disappointing that the British state have turned a blind eye to this oppression and prosecuted Dr Kersmo.
Keshina Bouri, Trainee Solicitor of Bindmans LLP, also representing Dr Kersmo stated:
This has been a long and difficult period for Dr Kersmo. He is a man who campaigns peacefully for the establishment of democracy in Ethiopia, the country from which he is currently exiled. A country ruled by tyranny. We are pleased to see a swift unanimous verdict acquitting Tadesse Kersmo of terrorist offences. He is delighted that a British jury has heard him and understood who he is and what he represents.
Dr Tadesse Kersmo said:
I have always had confidence in the British judicial system and see an independent judiciary as one of the essential pillars of democracy. Something which is sadly lacking in my home country. I want to thank my legal team for their incredible hard work and commitment to my case.
Moving scenes as supporters of democracy activist Tadesse Kersmo sang outside Snaresbrook Crown Court after his acquittal today. He said the trial had 'increased his desire to bring about a democratic Ethiopia'. Melikami 'idili Dr! pic.twitter.com/a8cmCDnhCv
— Ed Leahy (@EdwardJLeahy) December 19, 2017