Ethiopia Prisons former government Government minister for corruption

An Ethiopian court convicted a former cabinet minister on corruption charges on Friday and sentenced him to six years in prison.

By Dawit Endeshaw

ADDIS ABABA, May 8 (Reuters) – An Ethiopian court convicted a former cabinet minister on corruption charges on Friday and sentenced him to six years in prison.

The conviction comes amid a push by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to crack down on corruption in the public sector. Several former senior government officials and executives of state-owned enterprises have been arrested and jailed.

Bereket Simon was minister of communication from 1995 to 2012 under then prime minister Meles Zenawi and was widely considered to be his right-hand man.

He co-founded the Amhara region’s public investment fund, TIRET Corporation, which he led until 2017. TIRET owns companies in the brewing, construction, transport and logistics sectors.

He was found guilty on two counts, of corruption and mismanagement of the institution, court spokesman Tazebachew Tassie said.

The court in Bahir Dar, the capital of Amhara, also convicted Tadesse Kassa, a former TIRET board member, on the same charges.

Hiwot Lilay, a lawyer for both Bereket and Tadesse, told Reuters they would appeal both the guilty verdict and the sentence, adding, “My clients should be freed”. (Editing by Giulia Paravicini, Giles Elgood and Frances Kerry)