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British security guard faces death penalty in Ethiopia after being found guilty of terrorism offences

The Independent
Robert Verkaik
December 30,2014

Ali Adorus Image source -
Ali Adorus
Image source –

A British man who claims he was tortured in an Ethiopian prison is facing the death penalty after being found guilty of terrorism offences.

Ali Adorus, a security guard from east London, was subjected to electrocution, hooding and beatings during his 18-month imprisonment in the East African country, according to allegations made against Ethiopia and Britain to the United Nations High Commission.

Before leaving Britain to visit family in Ethiopia in 2012, Mr Adorus had complained that he had been targeted by MI5 and the Metropolitan Police over alleged links to Islamic extremism.

His lawyers also allege that some information contained in a false confession – which he claims was beaten out of him in an Ethiopian prison – could have been provided only by “British intelligence”.

Mr Adorus, who has a wife and child in the UK, was found guilty by the Ethiopian courts earlier this month but is now facing the death penalty.

Today, his wife, who is being supported by the human-rights group Cage, described the court process as “shockingly biased and unfair”.

She said: “The Ethiopian court does not even operate according to its own laws. It has refused to acknowledge the torture my husband endured. My husband’s testimony was dismissed by the court, as were the testimonies of the defence witnesses who were witnesses to the torture. The prosecution witnesses were bribed, threatened and some tortured to give false evidence against my husband.”

The Independent has seen a report written by the British embassy in Addis Ababa and sent to the Ethiopian government which raises the UK’s “grave concern” about his detention.

The document, written by officials at the embassy, names the Ethiopian senior police officer alleged to have carried out the torture. It says: “The British Government takes all allegations of torture of British nationals very seriously. The treatment alleged is prohibited under international human-rights treaties.”

The report adds that the failure of the Ethiopian authorities to inform the embassy of his detention is of “grave concern to the British Government”. It says that he alleges he has been “handcuffed for long periods”, was “hooded and then beaten” and “was electrocuted”.

Mr Adorus’s barrister in the UK, Toby Cadman, said that the conviction was “deeply troubling”. He claimed that the authorities had used “beatings and electric shocks to extract his confession” and said Ethiopia “must immediately start proceedings with a view to an investigation being commissioned”.

Mr Adorus, who was born in Ethiopia before coming to the UK as a young boy, was arrested in January 2013 on a bus during a family visit, and taken to a police station without any access to a lawyer. During his custody, he signed a forced confession in Amharic – a language he does not speak – after four days of beatings, he alleges.

He is accused by the Ethiopians of being a member of a number of terrorist groups and of waging a jihadist war since 2006. But his lawyers say the case against him is fabricated and have petitioned the United Nations, which is now considering the complaint. A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “We can confirm the detention of a British national in Ethiopia. We are providing consular assistance.”

Mr Adorus has a history of testicular cancer and was being monitored regularly in London. He and two friends had previously complained that they had been questioned by police and MI5 after returning from a safari holiday in Tanzania in 2009.

Asim Qureshi, a research director at Cage, which campaigns against abuses associated with the war on terror, said: “The case of Ali Adorus is yet another example of a British citizen who was harassed by UK security services and who ends up arbitrarily detained and tortured in a third country. The UK has failed to protect him from torture.”

Last year, Andrew Parker, the head of MI5, said: “We do not participate, incite, encourage or condone mistreatment or torture.”

But the complaint to the UN states: “It is alleged that intelligence officials provided direct and/or indirect assistance to the Ethiopian authorities in carrying out the arrest and torture of Mr Adorus.”

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