May 8, 2020 / 12:56 PM / 19 days ago

Ethiopia jails former minister for corruption

FILE PHOTO: Ethiopian government spokesman Bereket Simon (R) makes the official announcement of the death of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa August 21, 2012. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

ADDIS ABABA (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 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.

(This story correct title of Meles to prime minister in paragraph 3)

Editing by Giulia Paravicini and Giles Elgood

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