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Sofia Lotto Persio
THE nine-year-old daughter of a British activist facing execution in Ethiopia is suing the British government for failing to press for her father’s release.Menabe Tsege’s case against the Foreign Office will be heard at the High Court in London today.
Her lawyers began judicial proceedings over ministers’ handling of the case of her father, Andargachew “Andy” Tsege, a British citizen and exiled leader of Ethiopian opposition movement Ginbot 7.
He was kidnapped in June 2014 while transiting through Yemen and illegally rendered to Ethiopia, where he had been sentenced to death at a trial in absentia in 2009.
According to the lawyers, the illegality of Mr Tsege’s kidnapping, detention and death sentence makes the British government’s stance unlawful.
The Foreign Office has not requested his release but has merely asked the Ethiopian government to allow him access to a lawyer.
International human rights organisation Reprieve warned that Mr Tsege has no chance of receiving a fair trial.
“It’s clear that Andy faces no prospect of due process in Ethiopia, as he’s already received an illegal in absentia death sentence which the Ethiopian government has confirmed he has no hope of appealing,” said Maya Foa, director of the death penalty team at Reprieve.
“The British government must not allow Andy’s abuse to go on any longer. It must urgently call for his release, so that he can return to his family in London.”During a visit to Ethiopia in June, then foreign secretary Philip Hammond said he had “received a commitment from the prime minister that Mr Tsege will be allowed access to independent legal advice,” but this promise has yet to be kept.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson published an open letter on August 26 pledging that the government would continue to request that Mr Tsege be allowed access to legal representation and seek to ensure that the death sentence is not carried out.
“Britain does not interfere in the legal systems of other countries by challenging convictions,” Mr Johnson added.
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