HC Deb 12 March 1956 vol 550 cc30-1
50. Mr. J. Johnson

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he is aware that Mohammed Begorreh, the Chief Local Authority of Hargeisa, was sentenced in the Appeal Court at Addis Ababa on 13th February and that, contrary to the Anglo-Ethiopian Treaty, no foreign judge was present; and what action he is taking to right this injustice.

Mr. Dodds-Parker

Yes, Sir. Her Majesty's Government are seriously concerned at this new development.

As a result of an appeal by the prosecution, Mohammed Begorreh was brought before a criminal court which confirmed the original sentence of two years and added a fine of 200 dollars with another year's imprisonment in default. As the proceedings of the court were irregular in various ways, Her Majesty's Ambassador in Addis Ababa promptly lodged a very strong protest with the Ethiopian authorities on 24th February and has since made further representations. A formal and detailed reply was received by Her Majesty's Ambassador on Saturday. The Ethiopian Minister of Foreign Affairs is personally conducting a stringent inquiry into the matter.

Mr. Johnson

Is the Minister aware that the trial of Mohammed Begorreh was fixed for 24th February but Ethiopians came eleven days before and took him out of Harar Gaol to Addis Ababa, where he had no defence lawyer despite the fact that a lawyer had been arranged by the Governor of Somaliland? Is not this mediaeval and barbarous? Will the Minister not carry on—more power to his elbow—in his protest against this behaviour?

Mr. Dodds-Parker

I am grateful to the hon. Member for the information which he has given. This is one of the points which is, of course, being investigated at the moment.

At the end of Questions—