Prominent Ethiopian opposition campaigner acquitted of terrorism offences

Thursday 21 December 2017

Hossein Zahir and Russell Fraser of Garden Court Chambers represented the defendant, Dr Tadesse Kersmo. They were instructed by Kate Goold and Keshina Bouri of Bindmans LLP.

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Dr Tadesse Kersmo, a member of an Ethiopian opposition movement banned by the Ethiopian regime, has been acquitted of seven counts of possession of material likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism and a count of attending a place used for terrorist training. This acquittal followed a 3 week trial at Snaresbrook Crown Court.

The defendant 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. A jury at Snaresbrook Crown Court unanimously acquitted Dr Kersmo of each count in under three hours, clearly accepting his account that he had documents for research to assist with his campaign of civic disobedience.

Hossein Zahir and Russell Fraser are members of the Garden Court Chambers Criminal Defence Team.

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