Ethiopia’s biggest pop star sentenced to six years for hit-and-run

December 6th, 2008 | by addis portal |

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Ethiopia’s biggest pop star, Teddy Afro, was sentenced Friday to six years in jail for a hit-and-run that killed a homeless man.

The singer, whose real name is Tewodros Kassahun, has released albums considered critical of the government – prompting many to see his conviction as politically motivated.

In 2005, during Ethiopia’s highly contentious national elections, one of his songs became the unofficial anthem of the opposition movement.

During the 15-minute sentencing hearing, Judge Leul Gebremariam told the singer he had sought to reach a fair sentence.

“The defendant fled the scene when the victim could have been saved,” he said. “This shows cruelty.”

Afro stood during the sentencing, shifting his stance, occasionally pointing at the ceiling above him.

“I feel free,” he said as he left the courtroom.

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