8 March 2014

Ethiopia: Teenager Charged With Homosexual Acts Gets 14-Year Jail Sentence

A 17-year-old teenager, Matiyas Demeke Debela, was charged with engaging in homosexual acts with his nephew and was sentenced to 14 years of jail on March 4th, 2014. The charge states that the defendant violated the Criminal Code Article 631(1)(b) on an unknown date. The defendant threatened the six-year old boy telling him he would stab him if he said anything and repeatedly raped him, the charge read.

After a proceeding that took more than two years, on March 4 the Lideta Federal First Instance Court 7th Criminal Bench presiding Judge Abeba Alemu sentenced the defendant to 14 years in jail and banned him from any legal activity for four years after he finishes his sentence.

The defendant argued denying the charges and brought four witnesses to testify on his behalf. One of the witnesses was the father of the victim. He insisted that his brother would never do anything like that and that he would have known if he had since they all live together. The neighbor and sister of the defendant also added that since she rarely leaves the house, the said act could not have been done. A long time friend of the defendant also explained that the defendant's behavior doesn't align with the act and that since they spend so much time together he could not have done it.

On the other hand, witness of the public prosecutor and mother of the victim, said that her son was living with his father and told her not to get mad at him while explaining what the uncle (defendant) had done to him. Even though there was no medical evidence, the public prosecutor Kebkab Gizaw attached a psych exam from Yekatit Hospital substantiating that there was a self esteem issue with the victim.

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