Ethiopian court releases two academics on bail

Ethiopian court releases two academics on bail






              ADDIS ABABA, June 5 (Reuters) - Two Ethiopian academics charged with inciting

              student riots that led to the country's worst unrest in years were released on bail by an

              Addis Ababa court on Tuesday.


              Supporters cried tears of joy as a judge at the Federal High Court ruled that Mesfin

              Woldemariam and Berhanu Nega should be released for the first time since their arrest on

              May 8.


              "The law is vindicated", Mesfin, 72, told Reuters while leaving the dock. Berhanu's mother

              kissed the ground and prayed. Mesfin, a professor of geography at Addis Ababa

              University, and Berhanu, a prominent economist believed to be in his late 40s, had

              previously been denied bail twice by the court.


              The pair deny charges of involvement with an illegal political party aiming to unlawfully

              change the constitution and inciting students to violence.


              "We are not members of any clandestine organisations as it was alleged," Berhanu said.


              In mid-April protests by Addis Ababa university students demanding academic freedom

              degenerated into an orgy of looting by unemployed youths.


              The government said 31 people were killed as security forces sought to restore order.

              Medical sources put the toll at 41.


              The case was adjourned until July 9.