Ethiopia sentences Canadian to life
The Ethiopian High Court in Addis Ababa sentenced a Canadian citizen to life imprisonment Monday for being a member of an Ethiopian rebel group and engaging in terrorist activities.
In a statement, the court said it gave the maximum penalty to Bashir Ahmed Makhtal, a former Toronto resident, to deter other members of the Ogaden National Liberation Front.
Last week, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon asked that Makhtal not face the death penalty.
A Canadian diplomat who attended the court session declined to comment.
Makhtal has denied being a member of the group, which his grandfather helped found and which is fighting for autonomy in eastern Ethiopia.
Last week, Makhtal's Canadian lawyer, Lorne Waldman, called the Ethiopian proceedings a "kangaroo court" because they ignored evidence from Makhtal, who has been locked up for more than two years.
Born in Ethiopia in 1969, Makhtal settled in Canada as a refugee and later moved to Kenya, opening a used-clothing business. He was working in Somalia when Ethiopian troops invaded in late 2006. Makhtal fled back to Kenya, but was detained along with several others at the Kenya-Somalia border.
He was subsequently deported to Somalia from Kenya on Jan. 20, 2007, and was then sent to Ethiopia.
With files from The Associated Press