Rebel gets life

ADDIS ABABA - An Ethiopian court jailed a Canadian for life yesterday after he was convicted of membership of a rebel group fighting for the independence of an ethnically Somali part of the country.

Bashir Ahmed Makhtal was born in Ethiopia but travelled to Canada as a refugee and became a citizen in 1994. He was found guilty last week on three charges related to membership of the Ogaden National Liberation Front.

"The court has decided against the death penalty, which is the maximum penalty for the charges," Judge Adem Ibrahim said at the federal high court in the capital Addis Ababa. "The court sentences the defendant to life in prison."

Bashir, who left Ethiopia aged 11 and does not speak the local Amharic language, did not react as the sentence was read.

His lawyer, Gebreamlak Gebregiorgis, said he would appeal against both the conviction and sentence next week. - Reuters