By Tesfaye Getnet
The Addis Ababa Cultural and Tourism Bureau is planning to sue Holy Trinity Cathedral Church after finding that 25 indigenous trees had been cut to build a private grave yard on 150 square meters of land inside the church.
The trees were at least 45 years old and seven meters long. They were cut via the orders of the the church administration who received 17,000 birr from BitwodedBhairuNegash, owner of Hiwot Bottled Water to build graves for funerals of family members.
According to the Bureau, the church cut six indigenous types of trees around two months ago without the approval of the concerned environment and forest bureaus.
AbebeSeyoum, lawyer for the Addis Ababa Cultural and Tourism Bureau told Capital that they will sue the church in the next two weeks.
“The church is one of the country’s historical heritage sites. When someone plants or cuts a tree they must have the approval of the concerned body. The church administration has cut the trees without following legal procedures so we will seek justice in court’’ the lawyer said.
Under the current law someone who demolishes or cuts trees that are protected by the government or are heritages may face up to 10 years in jail, plus a fine of 5,000 birr per tree.
Abebe added that one house was also demolished in Balewold Church, the church found next to the Holy Trinity Church, without the approval of the Culture and Tourism Bureau and the bureau will sue the people who demolished it.
Holy Trinity Cathedral, known in Amharic as Kidist Selassie, is the highest ranking Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo cathedral in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It was built to commemorate Ethiopia’s liberation from Italian occupation and is the second most important place of worship in Ethiopia, after the Church of Zion in Axum.
The cathedral bears the title ‘MenbereTsebaot’, or ‘Pure Altar’. The church compound is the burial place for those who fought against the Italian Occupation, or those who accompanied the Emperor into exile in 1936. Moreover many well-known and rich people are buried there.
The Church of the Holy Trinity was founded by Emperor Menelik II soon after he moved his imperial capital from Mt. Entoto to Addis Ababa. The original church, built of wood with intricate carvings, was constructed with the help of artists from India.
The new Cathedral was completed in 1942, after the return from exile of Emperor Haile Selassie.(capitalethiopia)