All about Tedy Afro


Addis Fortune (Addis Ababa)

Ethiopia: Teddy Afro's Sentence Reduced Drastically
Hilina Alemu
18 February 2009

     The Federal Supreme Court this morning, Wednesday, February 18, 2009, reduced the sentence on the 31-year old sensational singer, songwriter and stage performer Tewdros Kassahun, by four years.

Popularly known as Teddy Afro, the Ethiopian pop-star was, on December 5, 2008, sentenced to six years imprisonment and fined 18, 000Br after the he was found guilty on two counts; one being homicide including driving without license and the second, being running away from the scene of the crime after having committed a crime.

Tewodros's remaining two-year prison sentence is inclusive of the time he has already served so far, which is nearly 10 months.

The Supreme Court has also reduced the 18,000Br fine the Eighth Criminal Bench of the Federal High Court passed in its December 5, 2008 ruling, to 11,000 Br.

In December, 2008, immediately after the Federal High Court decided that the singer be imprisoned for six years and fined 18,000Br, Tedy's lawyers, Million Assefa and Ameha Bedlu, appealed to the Supreme Court.

The over 150 people in the large court room, up at Sidist-Kilo, who had gathered for the hearing, were eagerly awaiting the court's decision with bated breath. The number of people was more than the courtroom normally accommodates. Most in the courtroom could not find seats while about 100 others were waiting outside, in the Supreme Court compound.

Tewodros requested leave to explain his case, interrupting Judge Dagne Melaku, while he was explaining the case to those in attendance. He was turned down both by his lawyers and the judge.

The lawyers apologized for his intrusion, which the judge described as an attempt to disrupt court proceedings, once again. Dressed in a blue-black suit and looking rather overconfident, Tewodros showed his disenchantment with Judge Dagne's statements.

There were high spirited emotions, fear and depression in the courtroom when Teddy and his two lawyers stood up while Judge Dagne read the judgment aloud. But, soon after the judge had read the paragraph that the High Court's sentence is reduced by four years and 7,000Br, the mood in the court room changed completely as the crowd punctuated the tense and quiet situation with loud applause.

Out of the court room, the pop-star's aficionados expressed mixed reactions.

Esete Demissie, 24, is one of the fans who are delighted with the Supreme Court's decision, though she still thinks Teddy is innocent.

"I am really glad that the court decided to reduce Tedy's time in prison; but I am still not convinced he is guilty," she told Fortune. "I was not expecting this at all."

Another young man in his late twenties, Epaw Abel, owner of Epaw Promotion, who, along his friends, is eagerly awaiting the end of Tedy's time in prison to welcome him back to his previous life. He is happy the time is going to be sooner than he first expected.

"I did not expect any of the reductions, either in the number of years or the fine," he said.

Teddy was first arrested by the Addis Abeba Police Commission investigators on November 3, 2006. The singer was accused of killing 18-year-old Degu Yibelete, a homeless man who came from Gojjam to live with his uncle before becoming a street dweller. The pop-star was released on 50,000Br bail on November 4, 2006 after he had been in custody for a day.

The star was denied bail on April 28, 2008 and the court ruled to hear four witnesses - all police constables - brought by the prosecutor against him on May 21, 2008.

According to the Ethiopian penal code, a driver would be charged with homicide if he knocks down a person, leading to death, and drives 15 metres away from the scene of the accident.

The penalty ranges from five to fifteen years of imprisonment and a fine up to a maximum of 15,000 Br.

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One of Tedy's lawyers Ameha Bedlu believes the verdict by the Supreme Court is fair while still having qualms about the singer's culpability.

"Personally, I have reservations on the assumption that Tewodros is guilty," Ameha Bedlu, one of the singer's two lawyers, told Fortune. "However, I believe the sentence is fair."

Asked whether they are to appeal again, Ameha declined to comment on this and other matters, saying the lawyers have not consulted their client.

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