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ICC Note: One Ethiopian Evangelical Christian has been allowed an appeal to fight the seven month prison sentence he was given. The man was charged with “causing outrage to religious peace and feeling”, for defaming the tabot, a replica of the Ark of the Covenant. We hope to see justice done and for him to be freed.

05/01/2018 Ethiopia (World Watch Monitor) – An Ethiopian court of cassation has said it will hear the appeal of an Evangelical Christian sentenced to seven months in prison for “causing outrage to religious peace and feeling”.

The appeal hearing is scheduled for 9 May and follows the rejection of a previous appeal by a lower court.

The cassation court in Wolaita Zonal Administration, 300km south of the capital Addis Ababa, also ordered the authorities in the southern city of Arba Minch to release Temesgen Mitiku Mezemir on bail.

Mezemir, 24, the leader of an Evangelical fellowship group, was found guilty in February of defaming the tabot, a replica of the Ark of the Covenant sacred to Orthodox Christians.

World Watch Monitor understands the charges against him were brought by members of the predominant Ethiopian Orthodox Church (EOC), to which just under half of Ethiopia’s population belongs.

The EOC is a symbol of Ethiopian national identity and its leaders play a prominent role in state and religious affairs. However relations between the EOC and the fast-growing Evangelical churches are often strained, characterised by mutual suspicion.

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For interviews with Nathan Johnson, ICC’s Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: press@persecution.org