Ethiopia State-owned broadcaster found guilty of defamation

 

Ethiopian tvThe Federal First Instance Court Ninth Civil Bench at Lideta on Tuesday found the state-owned broadcaster, the Ethiopian Radio and Television Agency (ERTA), guilty of defamation.

The charge that was brought by Unity Democracy and Justice (UDJ) party accused ERTA of producing and broadcasting a documentary film entitled ‘Akeldama’, which it said had the intention of defaming the party.

The documentary that was aired on ETV showed individuals who lost their membership from the party because of disciplinary measures or those who had terminated their membership because of their own free will as if they were still members of the party, the charge read.

UDJ pointed out that the documentary was extremely defamatory and portrayed the party wrongly as if it had a relationship with bodies that are deemed terrorist by the country’s law.

The three-day program, “Akeldama”, showed that UDJ was in close contact with an exiled opposition group, ‘Ginbot 7’, a group that was labeled as a terrorist organization by the Ethiopian government and that it is covering or protecting the members of Ginbot 7.

The second defendant, ERTA’s journalist Abdi Kemal, who was also accused alongside ERTA for producing the documentary, was found innocent since he had not taken a prominent part and had only been a presenter for the documentary.

The court in its verdict ordered ERTA to broadcast a program to correct the defamatory remark of the ‘Akeldama’ documentary and air a disclaimer. The court has seen the full documentary on its sessions which was aired on national television from November 26 to 28.