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Ethiopian Opposition Officials Plead Not Guilty in Terror Trial

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Nov. 30 (Bloomberg) -- Two political opponents of the government and a journalist accused of conspiracy to commit terror attacks were among those who pleaded not guilty at an Ethiopian court today, opposition leader Negasso Gidada said.

Also charged with being members of the banned Ginbot 7 and receiving support from Eritrea are 16 others, including Ginbot 7 leader Berhanu Nega, who are not in the country.

Defendants including Andualem Arage and Natnael Mekonnen from the Unity for Democracy and Justice Party complained that a recent broadcast on state-owned television that branded them “criminals” was prejudicial to the case, said Negasso, who attended the hearing. The court rejected the complaint, he said by phone from the capital, Addis Ababa, today.

Since June 2011, the Ethiopian government has charged at least 33 people under its Anti-Terrorism Proclamation of 2009, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said in a joint e-mailed statement on Nov. 21, calling for an end to the use of the “overly broad law” against “peaceful political activists.”

To contact the reporter on this story: William Davison in Addis Ababa at wdavison3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net

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