BY DAWIT ENDESHAW | REUTERS
An Ethiopian court on Friday convicted a former cabinet minister on corruption charges and sentenced him to six years in prison.
The conviction comes amid a push by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to crack down on corruption in the public sector. Several former senior government officials and executives of state-owned enterprises have already been arrested and jailed.
Bereket Simon was minister of communication from 1995 to 2012 under the then prime minister Meles Zenawi and was widely considered to be his right-hand man.
Bereket co-founded the Amhara region’s public investment fund, TIRET Corporation, which he led until 2017.
TIRET owns companies in the brewing, construction, transport, and logistics sectors.
He was arrested last year on suspicion of mismanagement of public funds while he was heading the fund.
Bereket was found guilty on two counts, of corruption and mismanagement of the institution, court spokesman Tazebachew Tassie said.
The court in Bahir Dar, the capital of Amhara, also convicted Tadesse Kassa, a former TIRET board member, on the same charges.
Lawyers for Bereket and Tadesse could not immediately be reached for comment.
Bereket Simon, former Ethiopian communication minister, convicted over embezzlement of public funds, abuse of power
Bereket Simon, who was minister of communication from 1995 to 2012, was sentenced after conclusion of a trial by the Amhara Regional State Supreme Court on Friday. pic.twitter.com/UjEkdhdXBm
— Umut Çağrı Sarı (@umutcagrisari) May 8, 2020