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ICC Note: In Ethiopia this week an appeal was rejected by an Evangelical Christian who was sentenced for causing religious outrage when he allegedly defamed a replica of the Ark of the Covenant, which is sacred to Orthodox Christians. Inter-church conflict not uncommon in Ethiopia, being a majority-Orthodox region that has apparent theological differences with the evangelical minority.

06/29/2018 Ethiopia (World Watch Monitor) – An Ethiopian court of cassation has rejected an appeal by an Evangelical Christian sentenced to seven months in prison for “causing outrage to religious peace and feeling”.

Temesgen Mitiku Mezemir, 24, the leader of an Evangelical fellowship group, was taken back to prison in the southern city of Arba Minch, after being released on bail in May pending the outcome of his appeal. Mezemir was found guilty in February of defaming the tabot, a replica of the Ark of the Covenant sacred to Orthodox Christians.

The judges of the cassation court in Wolaita Zonal Administration, 300km south of the capital Addis Ababa, said on 20 June they had found “no legal misinterpretations” on Mezemir’s case and upheld the sentence by the lower court.

Local sources told World Watch Monitor that with deduction of time he already spend in detention, Mezemir, 24, still has to serve four months and ten days in jail. However, he can request parole after serving two-thirds of his sentence and could be released in two months.

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.

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