Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Brian Adkin’s killer sentenced to 17 years in Ethiopia

Brian Adkin’s killer sentenced to 17 years in Ethiopia

The Ethiopian man who murdered alumnus and Foreign Service Officer Brian Adkins in his home last February was sentenced to 17 years in prison, Adkins’ family and friends said.

Adkins, 25, was found dead in his home in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital city, where he was working for the U.S. State Department. In an e-mail sent to family, friends and The Hatchet, fellow alumnus and friend Michael Geremia decried the sentence for the unidentified Ethiopian man who confessed to killing Adkins in April.

“Such a lenient sentence, for such a heinous crime, makes a mockery of the principle of justice; undermines the safety of American diplomats everywhere, but particularly in Ethiopia; and lacks any serious deterrent value for future murders of Americans in Ethiopia,” Geremia said.

Adkins’ father, Dan, said the family was “devastated” by the sentence but added that the prosecution has already appealed the ruling.

“To try to make sense of all of this, all we can hope for is that Brian’s work was done here and he was taken to do more important work for our Lord,” Adkins’ father said in the e-mail. “Regardless of the sentencing, this doesn’t change the daily loss that we all feel.”

Though the Adkins’ father said he does not believe in the death penalty, he said he hoped his son’s killer would have received a life sentence, preventing him from ever committing another crime. To make matters worse for the family, Adkins’ father said his son’s killer was tried in Ethiopia, as extradition laws prevented the U.S. from trying the case, leaving his family with no say in the killer’s fate.

“This young man devastated our family and we did not get an opportunity to send a letter or state in court what was done to us,” Adkins’ father said in a phone interview Monday afternoon. “Over there we have no say. We would have no say when he comes up for parole, whether or not we feel after 10 years and nine months if he can be out on good behavior, and it’s not acceptable to me. Our hands are tied in this process. To me, all these young people are going over there with the idea they are safe and they’re not. If there are no repercussions [for committing this type of crime] what is going to keep people from robbing and killing.”

Adkins’ father said he did not know when a decision on the appeal would be made, however he said the process will most likely take months.

“We were told that they had very strict laws in that country back in February, and for this sentence to come down the way it did left us very disappointed,” Adkins’ father said. “The man, only being 18 years old now, can be really young when he gets out of prison. He can still commit this crime again.”

Adkins was honored by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as one of 231 Foreign Service Officers who has died while serving their tours of duty.

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