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  • Kersmo Leader of G7 walked free from court after defending his role in an anti-government resistance movement. Posted on 20 December 2017

    Lecturer cleared of involvement in terror camp

    Lecturer cleared of involvement in terror camp

    finsbury park

    A university lecturer accused of flying out to an Ethiopian terrorist training camp walked free from court after defending his role in an anti-government resistance movement.

    Dr Tadesse Kersmo, 51, was arrested at Heathrow Airport in January with a US Navy Seal sniper’s manual, a guide to knife fighting techniques and a jihadi book on intelligence and security.

    The Ethiopian national was a prominent critic of his country’s government before he fled to the UK in 2009 and was granted asylum.

    He said his organisation Patriotic Ginbot 7, that was banned by the Ethiopian government, had a duty to help his people battle against torture and repression.

    His arrest sparked anger from pro-democracy campaigners, with Ethiopian Advocacy Network writing an open letter to Alison Saunders, Director of Public Prosecutions, demanding she drop the allegations.

    Jurors were given crash course in recent Ethiopian history, and the Ethiopian government, described as an ‘authoritarian regime’ by UK analysts Economist Intelligence Unit.

    Hossein Zahir, defending, showed jurors that some of the documents, such as ‘Put ’em Down Take ’em out’ and the US Snipers manual were available on Amazon.

    Mr Zahir also said ‘the world would be in a lot darker place’ if it was not for activists like Kersmo.

    ‘Throughout history if the response of people like Dr Kersmo in the fight against tyrannical regimes was to just sit at home, as the prosecution suggest, then the world would be in a lot darker place.’

    Kersmo was cleared of eight charges under the Terrorism Act after the jury deliberated for less than an hour.

    There were jubilant scenes following Kersmo’s acquittal with supporters and family gathered outside court, singing and hugging.

    Speaking after his acquittal Dr Kersmo said the trial had only strengthened his resolve to bring democracy to Ethiopia.

    ‘One of the things I have maintained throughout the hearing is the importance of democracy and an independent court.

    ‘I had high confidence in the British courts and it’s something I want for my country as well.

    ‘This has increased my dedication to bringing about a democratic Ethiopia.

    ‘It’s another important practical experience for me to strengthening my country.

    ‘I can’t say why I was charged, people may not have understood immediately. It’s okay, the most important thing is that the court is willing to listen and the jury reached the right decision.

    ‘This is part of the struggle and the court gave me the opportunity to explain our strategy.’

    Zelalem Tessema, from the Ethiopian Advocacy Network said: ‘We are over the moon about the verdict.

    ‘We also had confidence in the British legal system. We are so grateful to the jury.

    ‘They took less than one hour to arrive at unanimous verdicts on all counts.

    ‘This is a selfless man. He is giving his life for the people, this is a man who should be protected.

    ‘It should not have come to court in the first place.

    ‘This is a man who is trying to bring [to Ethiopia] what we take for granted here.

    ‘There’s a lot of happiness and there’s vindication.’

    Dr Kersmo defended his activism in court last week, telling jurors he collected numerous documents containing a variety of content.

    He denied that his group, Patriotic Ginbot 7 were an armed faction, saying they encouraged ‘civic disobedience’.

    Mr Zahir showed jurors documents co-authored by Kersmo suggesting various methods of protest, ranging from turning up late to work and leaving rocks on the roads.

    Asked about a news article about a reported attack on an arms depot in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Abbaba by Patriotic Ginbot 7, Kersmo defended the assault saying it was an example of ‘self-defence’.

    ‘This is a location used as a torture chamber,’ he said.

    ‘I know many people who have been tortured in this particular place, I interviewed those victims of torture.

    ‘At this time there were people being tortured, and a group of activists in Addis Ababa set fire to the place and freed the people being tortured.

    ‘This is the kind of self defence we are talking about.’

    ‘Did they use guns or bombs?’ asked Mr Zahir.

    Kersmo: ‘No.’

    ‘Did you describe yourself on the terms set out in the article as an armed group?’ asked Mr Zahir.

    Kersmo: ‘No. The objective is to free people who are subject to the most atrocious type of torture.

    ‘There are about fifty different places in Ethiopia they call safe houses where people are being tortured, maimed, their bodies broken.

    ‘To free those people, I think are the duties we have.

    ‘Specifically freeing prisoners and subjects of torture, increasing the chances of success in civic disobedience.

    ‘One of the methods of a totalitarian government from the Nazis to Stalin is to terrorise people to make them fearful of the mighty power of the state.

    ‘In order to encourage people to build self confidence, which cannot simply be achieved by oral teaching, there must be practical aspects, and that means helping people in desperate situations against the government force.

    Kersmo told jurors Birtukan Mideksa became a high profile prisoner in Ethiopia after campaigning against the government in 2010.

    ‘I just want to add one example of the psychological torture used.

    ‘The first Ethiopian woman to lead a political party, Birtukan Mideksa, she was arrested and tortured.

    ‘The type of psychological torture she went through was unknown, we can only guess because she refuses to talk.

    ‘Even though she is in the US she is politically nulled, they turned someone, very active woman in politics, into someone totally apolitical.’

    The prosecution claimed that photographs of him wearing khaki at a camp in Eritrea demonstrated his military connections.

    Prosecutor Barnaby Jameson said: ‘To his students there was nothing to suggest the defendant was anything more than a peaceable academic with a passionate interest in the politics of Ethiopia.

    ‘Certainly, there was nothing to suggest a man involved in political violence or, to put it another way, a man involved in terrorism.

    ‘There was – as you will discover, more than one side to this lecturer in business and economics.’

    Kersmo, of Seven Sisters Road, Finsbury Park, north London, was acquitted on seven counts of possession of articles containing information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, contrary to section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000, and one count of attendance at a place used for terrorist training contrary to section 8 of the Terrorism Act 2006.

    Source... Court News

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