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  • High-profile cardiologist convicted on corruption charges implicated in deadly prison fire

    Dr. Fikru Maru, the high-profile cardiologist who was convicted on corruption charges, was indicted along with 37 other suspects for starting the deadly fire that broke out in the Qilinto federal penitentiary on September 3 that led to the death of 23 inmates and razed property worth 15 million Birr.

    In a charge filed with the 19th Criminal Bench of the Federal High Court the federal Attorney General accused the suspects of violating Articles 32 and 38 of the Revised Criminal Code as well as Article 3 of the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation No. 652/2009. The indictment states that the defendants were under custody on charges of carrying out the mission given to them by the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), Ginbot 7 and Al-Shabaab, groups designated as terrorists by Parliament, with the aim of pressuring the government.

    The charge further reads that the defendants, intent on instigating a riot inside Qilinto so as to break out and join the terror groups, had engaged beginning January 2016 in recruiting and organizing inmates for said purpose.  It accuses the suspects of raising money from abroad and prisoners jailed in local prisons to finance what they called the “terror and gang group”, a group comprised of inmates charged with serious offences, to perpetrate the riot.

    Dr. Fikru, 66, is accused of financing the “terror and gang group” to the tune of 70,000 Birr and giving instructions to the group to carry out the insurrection. The group is said to have organized the defendants under cells and exchanged information through encrypted codes. Though it had planned to set off the riot in March 2016, it put off its plans because members of the OLF and Ginbot 7 who were anticipated to join Qilinto as inmates did not, according to the charge.

    The defendants allegedly conspired to murder inmates they suspected of ratting on them to prison authorities and beat them to death with steel bars. They then abducted and disarmed prison officers who were conducting a routine a head count, freed prisoners and set prison cells on fire.

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  • Why is the Ethiopian diaspora so influential?

    During a year of anti-government protests throughout Ethiopia, its global diaspora, particularly that in the US, has been deeply involved - and not just vocally, writes Addis Ababa-based journalist James Jeffrey.

    Twitter and Facebook have been blocked since a six-month state of emergency was imposed last month as the government tries to restore order across the country's two most populous regions of Oromia and Amhara.

    There are also internet blackouts, primarily targeting mobile phone data, which is how most Ethiopians get online - and is for many residents of the capital, Addis Ababa, the most frustrating effect of the security clamp down.

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  • Palestinian firefighters arrive to help put out the flames across Israel

    Palestinian firefighters arrive to help put out the flames across Israel
    Across the country hundreds of fire-fighters spread out to battle the wildfires raging in Haifa, Modi’in, Rishon Lezion and many other locations.

    As fires raged across Israel Thursday evening eight Palestinian fire fighting crews arrived to Israel to put out the flames.

    Four crews entered in the north though the Gilboa crossing to assist teams in Haifa.

    An additional four crews were sent to help with the fires in the Jerusalem area.Across the country hundreds of fire-fighters spread out to battle the wildfires raging in Haifa, Modi’in, Rishon Lezion and many other locations, a sense of existential emergency has begun to emerge. Among fire-fighters, rhetoric has been transformed from talk of fighting flames to that of fighting a battle.

    “We are at war,” Haifa Fire Service spokesman Uri Chibutro told Maariv. “It is very important to listen to all the personnel. At the moment the fire is not under control, and I advise everyone to listen to rescue teams and emergency instructions.”

    As of Thursday night 67 people remained hospitalized from fire related injuries. One person was moderately injures, the rest were lightly injured.

    Eliyahu Kamisher contributed to this report.

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  • Donald Trump: Melania and Barron will not move to the White House initially

     

    President-elect Donald Trump told reporters he will live in the White House after he takes the oath of office, but that his wife Melania and 10-year-old son Barron will be living in New York temporarily to allow their son to finish out the year at the same school.
    During a photo op at his Bedminster Golf Club as he was saying goodbye to Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Trump said yes when asked if he intended to live in the White House. Then when asked if Melania and Barron would move to Washington, he said “very soon. Right after he finishes school.”
    Transition officials earlier Sunday were asked about the plans for Melania and Barron after the New York Post reported they would not immediately move to Washington, but would to continue live at Trump Tower so he could finish out the year at his elementary school.
    “The Trump family is energized and excited about their new role serving the country, and specifically the President-elect’s task at hand of helping to move our country forward,” transition spokesman Jason Miller said. “No official statement has been released by the Trump family regarding transition timing, but like any parents they are concerned about pulling their 10-year-old son out of school in the middle of the year. We would also appreciate the same privacy and security considerations given to previous First Families with regard to minor children be extended to the Trumps as well.”

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