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Journalists on trial in Ethiopia

Trial against Swedes adjourned until November

Updated torsdag 20 oktober 2011 kl 11.00
Published torsdag 20 oktober 2011 kl 10.38
Journalists Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye in court in the Lideta federal court in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Abeba. Photo: Scanpix

The trial against the two Swedish journalists, Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye, reconvened in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia this morning. After a couple of hours the trial was then adjourned until November 1.

The two men, accused of terrorist crimes by supporting a rebel movement from the Ogaden region, sat in court this morning while the judge read out the charges against them. It was then the turn of the defence team to respond to the charges. The journalists’ lawyer brought to the court’s attention that it was unclear in what way the two Swedes are supposed to have supported the Ogaden National Liberation Front, listed as a terrorist group by the Ethiopian government.

Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye deny the terrorism charges, but admit to entering Ethiopia illegally.

“I am a Swedish journalist and my job is to gather material. I am not guilty to prosecution points two and three,” said Schibbye with a clear voice to the court, reports Swedish Radio News.

“We did not have all the correct papers when we entered Ethiopia and for that I apologise to the Ethiopian government, but I am not guilty of terrorism,” Schibbye continued.

Johan Persson also admitted to entering the country illegally, but said that was all he was guilty of.

Swedish Radio News’s correspondent Beatrice Janzon described a tense mood outside the courtroom.

The trial was first postponed on Tuesday because the journalists did not have a defence lawyer in place and is now scheduled to reconvene on November 1.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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