The Federal Supreme Court this morning, Wednesday,
February 18, 2009, reduced the sentence on the
31-year old sensational singer, songwriter and stage
performer Tewdros Kassahun, by four years.
Popularly known as
Teddy Afro, the Ethiopian pop-star was, on December
5, 2008, sentenced to six years imprisonment and
fined 18,000Br after he was found guilty on two
homicide including driving without license and the
second, being running away from the scene of the
crime after having committed a crime.
two-year prison sentence is inclusive of the time he
has already served so far, which is nearly 10
The Supreme Court has also reduced
the 18,000Br fine the Eighth Criminal Bench of the
Federal High Court passed in its December 5, 2008
ruling, to 11,000 Br.
In December, 2008, immediately after the Federal
High Court decided that the singer be imprisoned for
six years and fined 18,000Br, Teddy’s lawyers,
Million Assefa and Ameha Bedlu, appealed to the
The over 150 people in the large court room, up at
Sidist-Kilo, who had gathered for the hearing, were
eagerly awaiting the court’s decision with bated
breath. The number of people was more than the
courtroom normally accommodates. Most in the
courtroom could not find seats while about 100
others were waiting outside, in the Supreme Court
Tewodros requested leave to explain his case,
interrupting Judge Dagne Melaku, while he was
explaining the case to those in attendance. He was
turned down both by his lawyers and the judge.
The lawyers apologized for his intrusion, which the
judge described as an attempt to disrupt court
proceedings, once again. Dressed in a blue-black
suit and looking rather overconfident, Tewodros
showed his disenchantment with Judge Dagne’s
There were high spirited emotions, fear and
depression in the courtroom when Teddy and his two
lawyers stood up while Judge Dagne read the judgment
aloud. But, soon after the judge had read the
paragraph that the High Court’s sentence is reduced
by four years and 7,000Br, the mood in the court
room changed completely as the crowd punctuated the
tense and quiet situation with loud applause.
Out of the court room, the pop-star’s aficionados
expressed mixed reactions.
Esete Demissie, 24, is
one of the fans who are delighted with the Supreme
Court’s decision, though she still thinks Teddy is
“I am really glad that the court decided to reduce
Tedy’s time in prison; but I am still not convinced
he is guilty,” she told Fortune. “I was not
expecting this at all.”
Another young man in his late twenties, Epaw Abel,
owner of Epaw Promotion, who, along his friends, is
eagerly awaiting the end of Tedy’s time in prison to
welcome him back to his previous life. He is happy
the time is going to be sooner than he first
“I did not expect any of the reductions, either in
the number of years or the fine,” he said.
Teddy was first
arrested by the Addis Abeba Police Commission
investigators on November 3, 2006.
singer was accused of killing 18-year-old Degu
Yibelete, a homeless man who came from Gojjam to
live with his uncle before becoming a street
dweller. The pop-star was released on 50,000Br bail
on November 4, 2006 after he had been in custody for
The star was denied bail on April 28, 2008 and the
court ruled to hear four witnesses – all police
constables – brought by the prosecutor against him
on May 21, 2008.
According to the Ethiopian penal code, a driver
would be charged with homicide if he knocks down a
person, leading to death, and drives 15 metres away
from the scene of the accident.
The penalty ranges from five to fifteen years of
imprisonment and a fine up to a maximum of 15,000
One of Tedy’s lawyers Ameha Bedlu believes the
verdict by the Supreme Court is fair while still
having qualms about the singer’s culpability.
“Personally, I have reservations on the assumption
that Tewodros is guilty,” Ameha Bedlu, one of the
singer’s two lawyers, told Fortune. “However,
I believe the sentence is fair.”
Asked whether they are to appeal again, Ameha
declined to comment on this and other matters,
saying the lawyers have not consulted their client.