Yaregal Ayesheshum, former president of the Benishangul Gumuz Regional State, was sentenced on Friday to seven years in prison and fined 20,000 birr at the Federal High Court 15th criminal bench in Lideta.
Yaregal and his associates were handed sentences varying from six to 15 years, with fines ranging from 20,000 to 60,000 birr.
The charges brought against Yaregal and the other defendants by prosecutors of the Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (FEACC) include abuse of power and corruption, and using their power to gain personal profit. The accusations were leveled two years ago and they were eventually found guilty on Nov 20, 2013, after a lengthy court case. After the verdict prosecutors of the FEACC argued for aggravating circumstances, while the accused pleaded to the court for favorable terms. After hearing both sides the 15th criminal bench passed the sentences. The former president of Benishangul Gumuz was found guilty on the charge of abuse of power and corruption, which the FEACC had proved without doubt.
The second defendant, Habtamu Hika, the former speaker of the Benishangul Gumuz Regional State council, was found guilty on three counts and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment, coupled with a 45,000 birr fine.
Assefa Gebeyehu, the third defendant, was also found guilty on three counts, and he received a 15 year jail term and 60,000 birr fine. In addition the 15th criminal bench found Gedion Demeke, owner of Gedion Demeke Consultancy, guilty and sentenced him to 14 years imprisonment together with a 60,000 birr fine. The court also sentenced Gezahegn Adregneh, manager of Gade Construction, and Mekebeb Moges, manager of Alkan Construction, who were both found guilty on one count and given six year jail terms with fines of 25,000 birr each. The FEACC failed in the case against the seventh defendant, Hailegabriel Hika, brother of Habtamu, who was acquitted by the court.