Ethiopia releases imprisoned Israeli businessman after four years

The businessman, who has denied any wrongdoing, was released on Friday after paying a $350,000 fine and is expected to arrive back in Israel early this week.

By JERUSALEM POST STAFF
June 23, 2019 03:43
1 minute read.
Illustrative photo of handcuffs

Illustrative photo of handcuffs. (photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)

Ethiopia has released Menashe Levy, an Israeli citizen who had been detained in the country for more than four years following an indictment for tax evasion, Ynet reported on Saturday.

The businessman, who has denied any wrongdoing, was released on Friday after paying a $350,000 fine and is expected to arrive back in Israel early this week.

According to the Prime Minister’s Office, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been in contact with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed numerous times over the past few months in order to pressure him to release the Israeli. The involvement of the prime minister was at the behest of Levy’s family, according to the report.

The Israel Embassy in Addis Ababa has also been active in working to secure Levy’s release, as has Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel, who has visited the country several times.

President Reuven Rivlin also brought up Levy’s imprisonment when he visited Ethiopia in May.

Levy, who has lived in Ethiopia for seven years, founded an excavation company that was considered one of the largest infrastructure companies in the African sate until his arrest, according to the report.

The country’s anti-corruption unit opened an investigation into alleged tax evasion by Levy, and eventually arrested and charged him for concealing 144 million Bir (NIS 26m.), confiscating his bank accounts and company assets.

Levy claims that the charges came as a result of parties who wanted to take control of his company, and used their political connections against him.

While in prison, Levy says he has been the victim of assault by a Sudanese cell mate. He was brought to a hospital in Addis Ababa suffering from bruises and wounds which went untreated for a long time, according to the report.

“The Sudanese broke his ribs,” Menashe’s brother Yossi Levy said, according to Ynet. “He lost his hearing in one ear and suffered from vomiting and blurred vision. One more blow and he would have opened my brother’s head. It was like a lynching in prison, just because my brother is Israeli and the Sudanese is Muslim.”


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