An Ethiopian Court on Tuesday sentenced 20 alleged Islamists to five and a half years in prison on terrorism-related charges, the state-affiliated agency reports.
“The defendants were found guilty of harbouring an extremist religious view, thereby opposing any other religious teachings, and also trying to establish an Islamic state in the country that will be ruled by Sharia law,’’ the court in Addis Ababa said.
Nineteen of the defendants, including a journalist working for a Muslim radio station, were handed jail terms of five and a half years under the east African country’s controversial anti-terrorism law.
One defendant, also a journalist, was only given 4 years and 5 months because of his poor health.
Defence lawyer Mustafa Safi described the verdict as “unfair’’ and said his clients had suffered “bad treatment’’ in prison, where they were not allowed to pray and vowed to appeal against the sentence.
In September, Ethiopia pardoned five members of a Muslim group which had been set up to counter alleged government interference in Muslim religious life, but was later busted by security forces on terrorism-related charges.
Muslims have complained about discrimination in predominantly Orthodox Christian Ethiopia, where they make up at least 33 per cent of the 100 million population.
The Ethiopian government is also often accused of stifling dissent.