The Federal Attorney General pardoned and drop charges of known figures on Saturday May 26.
The main figure, Andargachew Tsigie a prominent politician was pardoned in a special pardon.
Ethiopians across the world celebrate his release on social media after his pardon was announced by the Attorney General in the morning of Saturday. Speculations were also high in the past few weeks that his release was eminent.
Andargachew “Andy” Tsigie is a prominent Ethiopian politician who previously served as the secretary-general of Ginbot 7, a political party labeled as a terrorist group by the Ethiopian government.
According to his profile on Wikipedia, when Derg was overthrown in 1991, Andargachew came back to Ethiopia from exile to help the then newly formed EPRDF government led by his former university friend Meles Zenawi. Within two years he left the government. He moved back to London and started writing articles that were critical of the regime and its divisive politics.
In 2005 Andargachew returned to Ethiopia and published a book in Amharic which loosely translates to “Freedom fighter who does not know freedom”, an analysis of the state of Ethiopian politics at the time. Soon, with an invitation from then deputy leader of Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) party Berhanu Nega, he joined the party and helped the party in the ill-fated election of May 2005.
In June 2005, Andargachew was imprisoned during the crackdown by the Ethiopian government after the election. After his release, he returned to London, where he was able to campaign against the regime by testifying at different government or international organisations including the US congress and European Union Human Rights committee as well as think tanks. He became the principal spokesperson for the CUD party in exile and was instrumental in mobilizing the global Ethiopian diaspora for a worldwide campaign to secure the release of the CUD leaders and all prisoners of conscience.
In 2008, he founded Ginbot 7 Movement for Justice, Freedom and Democracy with Berhanu Nega, one of the exiled leaders of CUD. He was elected as Secretary General of Ginbot 7.
On 22 December 2009, The Federal High Court sentenced Andargachew to death, in absentia, while 33 others were sentenced to life in prison along with four others who were also sentenced in absentia.
On 7 November 2013, Ginbot 7 claimed it foiled an assassination plot that targeted Andargachew, as well as commanders and high-ranking officers of Ginbot 7 Popular Force.
On 23 June 2014, he was once again imprisoned by the Ethiopian regime. He was arrested by Yemeni security forces, in collaboration with Ethiopian intelligence service members, at Yemen’s Sana’a International Airport while in transit from the United Arab Emirates to Eritrea. He was detained in an unknown location and no official statement was forthcoming from either the Yemeni or Ethiopian governments.
Andargachew is married to Yemserach Hailemariam (Yemi). They have three children together Hilawit, Menabe, and Yilak. In 2015 Hilawit awarded the Christine Jackson Young Person Award by the charity Liberty in recognition of her ongoing battle for the release of her father.
In related news 27 individuals 4 companies were pardoned from corruption crimes, 137 individuals were also acquitted of their terrorism charges, 576 individuals who were charged with different criminals activities were pardoned.
Among them, Melaku Fenta Former Director of the Ethiopian revenue and Customs Authority, his deputy Gebrewahid Woldegiorgis, former State Minister of Ministry of Finance and Economic Cooperation, Alemayehu Gujo and other prominent business figures were included in the pardon.
Moreover, prominent business people who were charged with corruption, such as Ketema Kebede owner of KK plc, Getu Gelete owner of Get-as International, Nega Gebreegziabher, Simachew Kebede owner of Intercontinental Addis Hotel, Gemshu Beyene owner of Ellily International Hotel, and Fitsum Gebremedihn are also expected to be pardoned.
Officials of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Cooperation are also expected to be pardoned. These include Wasihun Abate and Aklog Demissie.
Zaid Woldegebriel former head of the Ethiopian Roads Authority is also included in the pardon.