POSTED: 03:01 a.m. HST, Dec 17, 2012
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — A group of more than two dozen Ethiopian Muslims has pleaded not guilty to charges of terrorism.
Federal prosecutors are accusing the group, which includes prominent clerics and journalists, with terrorism and attempts to create an Islamic state that would undermine the country's secular constitution. Among the 28 pleading not guilty on Monday is the wife of a former senior Cabinet minister who was fired last month after publicly defending her. One defendant did not plead and instead said he was mentally unfit to stand trial.
The charges come amid running confrontations between authorities and Muslim protesters who accuse the government of unconstitutionally encouraging a moderate teaching of Islam called Al-Ahbash. Some of protests turned violent and eight people were killed in two spate incidents in regional towns.