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Ethiopia: Freed Christians no longer need to pay compensation

11 May 2017

Freed Christians no longer need to pay compensation

Three Ethiopians falsely accused of committing arson do not now have to pay compensation for the destroyed church building - a building which, in January, they were acquitted of destroying.

Tibebu Mekuria, Dawit Jemberu, and Belete Tilahun had been accused and found guilty of burning down an Ethiopian Orthodox Church (EOC) building in May 2014. Although witnesses said the men were not near the building at the time of the fire and the one witness for the prosecution gave an inconsistent testimony, a judge found all three guilty on 28 October, 2014, with sentences of up to nine years in prison each.

In July 2016, the men were then given a separate court order to pay for damages of the church, which came to more than 1.2 million Ethiopian birr (£42,000).

Though they were finally acquitted of arson on 18 January (after almost three years of delays), sources in Ethiopia report that the men have only now been released from the court order to pay the compensation.

"All three are extremely relieved over this outcome", an Open Doors source wanting to remain anonymous said.

Belete, who is the only one of the men who is married and owns property, was at risk of having his home confiscated. This new development means that the government's hold on Belete's property and bank account has now been cancelled.

Thank you to everyone who has prayed for the release of these men or written to encourage them. Please continue to uphold the men in your prayers using the prayer points below.

Source: Open Doors

Please pray:

  • Praise God for this answer to prayer; that the men no longer need to pay for damages to the church
  • That Tibebu, Dawit and Belete would now be able to put the stress from this ordeal behind them
  • For the church in Ethiopia - the Orthodox Church and independent denominations - that it would be united and work together for God's Kingdom in the face of increasing persecution.

More News from Ethiopia:

Find out more about persecution in Ethiopia.