After spending nearly 3 years in prison on false charges that they burned down an Ethiopian Orthodox Church (EOC) building in the rural community of GulemaIyesus, Addis Ababa, evangelical Christians Tibebu Mekuria (in his 20s), Dawit Jemberu (also in his 20s), and Belete Tilahun (in his 40s) have been acquitted and released at last. Their arrest, around one month after the May 2014 incident, was followed by nearly three years of flawed court proceedings. On January 13, 2017, a Supreme Court judge finally acquitted the men, and on January 18, the men’s lawyers secured their release from the Debiremarkos prison. Their release was followed by a joyful reunion with their families.
Despite a pending appeals process, on July 3 of last year a judge ordered that the three men pay damages to the value of more than 1.2 million Ethiopian birr (about $57,142 USD). Tibebu and Dawit are both single and have no property, but Belete, a married father of three, risked losing his property. After their acquittal last month, the men appeared in court in Debiremarkos on Jan 25 to request a cancellation of the compensation order. The judge did not immediately grant the request, saying that he needed time to go through the file and understand how the verdict was reached. The next court appearance is scheduled for Feb 20, one week from today.
“We don’t know why we are here,” one of them was quoted as saying at that time, “but it is true that God has His own purpose and plan to let us be here. We thank you for your prayers and concern.”
Please continue to pray for next week’s hearing, that justice will be served and the compensation order will be cancelled.
We praise You, Father, that justice has been accomplished in the acquittal of these three Christians by the Supreme Court of Ethiopia. Thank You for sustaining their faith during this ordeal, that they have served You faithfully in prison and that they are now freed to proclaim Your name on the streets of their village. We pray now for further justice to be served next week during the compensation hearing, that it will proceed as plan, with the requirement of compensation dropped, and that rural authorities will not cause further delays to drag out the men’s ordeal. We pray especially for Belete and his wife and children, that You will sustain them as a family as he joyfully reenters their daily life following this time of hardship for them all. In the name of Jesus, who works righteousness and justice for all who are