News: Former deputy spy chief, eight others due for release after sentences of three to five years in prison

Yared Zerihun

Addis Abeba – The Federal High Court, Lideta division yesterday sentenced nine defendants, including Yared Zerihun, former deputy and anti-terrorism task force chief of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), between three to five years in prison. The defendants were charged under the file name of Getachew Assefa, former NISS Director General.

Defense attorney Kiflay Mehari told Addis Standard that the court sentenced Yared Zerihun and Emanuel Kiros, a former senior official at the spy agency, to five years and four months in prison each. Six other defendants in the same file were sentenced between three to four years in prison.

The court has passed a verdict to release all nine of them, with an immediate release of three defendants, Shewit Belay, Biniam Mamushet and Tesfaye Gebretsadik, on accounts that they have already served prison time more than the three years sentence they were given, and the remaining defendants to be freed within two days on probation on accounts that they have been imprisoned for more than four years since their arrests.

Yared Zerihun was arrested on November 15 in what the police alleged was a hotel room in Dukem, some 30 km south of Addis Abeba and was brought to the capital the same day.

On 27 January 2022, judges at the Federal High Court, Lideta Division 1st Corruption Crimes bench, granted a bail 30, 000 birr each for 22 defendants charged under the file name of the Getachew Assefa, including Yared. But a month later the decision was overturned by the Federal Supreme Court 1st Court of Appeals on, rendering defendants to continue fighting the charges.

They were previously charged with corruption, but later on their charges were amended to human rights violations and they were tried under the country’s criminal law, Kiflay said. Throughout the hearing, Yared had maintained innocence and had once told the court that the “the wild rumors” and propaganda spread during the time of his arrest had “tempted me to take my own life.”

Getachew Assefa, the former spy chief who was charged under the same file was sentenced in absentia to 18 years imprisonment in July 2022. AS

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