Thursday, July 12, 2007

Ethiopia: Court Rules in Seye, Et Al Corruption Case

Court Rules in Seye, Et Al Corruption Case

Daily Monitor (Addis Ababa)
11 July 2007
Posted to the web 12 July 2007

By Abera W. Kidan
Addis Ababa

The Federal High Court on Tuesday ruled a guilty and not-guilty verdict in separate corruption cases that implicated Seye Abraha and his brothers Assefa Abraha, Mihreteab Abraha including brother-in-law Businessman Fitsumzeab Asgedom.

In a lengthy trail that took over six years, the Federal Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission filed two cases against Seye.

Under the first case, the famous party man who served in the rank of a minister was accused of using his political prominence to solicit a bank loan amounting to over 10 million Birr with out collateral for a company owned by his two brothers.

The second case accused Seye of aiding his younger brother Mihreteab to illegally benefit from buying 13 heavy duty trucks on a 19% discount basis from AMCE, a motor company partially owned by the government.

On both counts, the defendant was found innocent including the one that involved illegally importing three trucks duty free, but the court found some wrongdoing in the truck deal.

Seye actually had his brother benefit from a deal with the local Truck Assembly Company, the court found.

Seye was thus sentenced to five years in prison plus a fee of 500 birr, which means he already served little over six years over what was sentenced for.

Brother Mihreteab was sentenced to five years imprisonment and a fee of 100o Birr.

Under the same file, Former Prime Minister Tamrat Laynnie got a three months imprisonment on top of what the court rulled on him- a 18 years prison sentence.

In May 2001, Police arrested Seye and his four brothers: Mihreteab Abraha (and his wife) Asmelash Abraha, Woldeselassie Abraha, Fiseha Abraha and sister Timnit Abraha.

Asmelash and Wodeselassie, (who served in the army before retiring to farming,) were released shortly after they were detained for prosecutors found nothing to incriminate them with, according to defendants' lawyer.

Neither did the police found any evidence against Timinit who allegedly secured employment through her elder brother Seye.

She, too, was acquitted shortly.

In another corruption case that involved Assefa Abraha, who, like his brother, was accused on three counts, the court ruld a guilty and not guilty verdict.

Assefa was the head of Public Enterprises Authority.

He also served as Board Chairman of the Privatization Agency headed by Beshah Azmite.

The court ruled it found no wrongdoing in the Taitu Hotel, and Harar Printing Press buy-outs which implicated Brother-in-law Fitsumzeab Asgedom, owner of The Monitor Plc. that publishes The Daily Monitor newspaper.

Assefa was however found guilty of wrongdoing in the case that involved Gulelle Soap Factory bought out to Ato Fitsumzeab, and Debrezeit Flour Factory which implicated Mr. Hrayer Bhencinnian, owner of Hagbess Plc.

The court also dismissed as insignificant the charge against Assefa for allegedly helping his brother Asmelash posses an agency license from St George Breweries.

Assefa got nine years in prison, Businessman Fitsum got six years-a year less than what he already served- while the court adjourned the latter's case to July 24 saying it will not rule out in absentia.

The defendant is said to be on medical treatment out of the country.

Beshah got eight years in prison.

Speaking with The Daily Monitor, lawyer Kaleayu Mehari said the Court's verdict on Gulelle Factory buy-out was a surprise in the sense that the investor and Privatization Agency officials was said to be guilty for offering the highest price to take the factory.

He also said he was surprised the court made the accused guilty on an issue they were not ordered to defend in its guilty decision related to the Debrezeit Flour Factory.

Seye was a founding member of the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) a core power in the ruling party EPRDF.

Copyright © 2007 Daily Monitor. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (

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