A hotel chambermaid wept yesterday as insisted she was innocent after spending 16 days in jail for allegedly stealing a watch from £2,600 in cash from Olympic hero Mo Farah.
Mum-of-one Abebech Gadisa, 23, slept on the floor and shared a cell with three other people, with no shower and a bucket to wash in after being arrested by cops probing the alleged hotel room break in.
Abebech said: “I didn’t do anything wrong and I was locked up for 16 days.
She was held after Sir Mo told staff his belongings had gone missing when his suitcase was broken into at the Ya Ya Athletes Village Hotel, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, last month during a training camp.
The incident has escalated into an international war of words with hotel owner and fellow Olympian Haile Gebrselassie who in turn has accused Sir Mo of “ruining his reputation and livelihood.”
Yesterday blinking back tears Abebech described the moment cops took her to nearby Suluta police station where she was questioned for several hours along with four other hotel employees.
I didn’t do anything wrong and I was locked up for 16 days
She said:”The first I knew anything was wrong was when I was called back to the hotel by the manager.
“The police were there and they asked me what had happened with Mo Farah’s suitcase. They asked me how I had got into the room and what did I do when I was in there.
“I told them I had done my job and the opened the curtains and cleaned up. I said the suitcase was standing up on the floor and I had tidied up and then left.
“Then they said to me “Did you take the watch ? Did you take the money ? Do you know who took it?
FARAH ‘DIDN’T PAY BILL’
“That’s when I realised something had happened and I was in trouble for something I hadn’t done.
“I have cleaned Mo Farah’s room before when he has stayed and I have always been honest.
“I pick up clothes from the floor and he’s left phone in the room and cash before but I have never touched anything.
“I have never touched anything or taken anything. I pick everything up that’s on the floor and he has never complained before but he’s never left me a tip.”
What Mo Farah is doing is completely unfair
Forensics were immediately called to his ground floor junior suite number 133 and took fingerprints and photos as part of their ongoing investigation.
Abebech added:”I knew I was innocent but they kept me for 16 days. I was away from my daughter and it was a terrible time for me.
“There was no evidence against me.
“It was very hard for me in jail, sleeping on the floor and being away from my family. They took me to court twice so they could keep me longer but they had no evidence.”
MAID SLEPT IN CROWDED CELL
Cops eventually released earlier this month after she had paid 3,000 Ethiopian birr (£80) bail – two months wages for her – and she is now back working at the hotel.
Abebech added:”I need to work. That’s why I have had to come back here. I need the money and I have to pay back the friends and family who helped pay my release.”
The Sun was shown around Sir Mo’s room yesterday and marketing manager Alazar Mada said:”What Mo Farah is doing is completely unfair. He has stayed with us many times before and we have never had problems.
“He has even said how honest the staff here are because he joked about leaving money and his phone in the room and it was not touched.
OLYMPIC HERO LOST £8k WATCH
“There was a safe in his room which he asked to be removed because it was bleeping as the battery was low. He didn’t replace the safe in his room and we said to use the hotel one.
“The next day he reports the loss of all this money and his watch. We said we would do all we could to investigate but he then said he was going to post it on social media.
“He said he would put it on Instagram and he has millions of followers and the hotel would be hugely affected by the post.
Hotel hospitality director Melkamu Mekonnen said: “If he had that amount of money with him he should have declared it.”
STAFF CLAIM HE ROWED WITH OTHER ATHLETES
Mr Mekonnen also showed The Sun a copy of Sir Mo’s outstanding bill for 81,345 Ethiopian birr (£2,198) which was for his month long stay.
Meanwhile hotel gym instructor Kennedy Girma, 23, told how Sir Mo flew off the handle at him and accused him of copying his training regime and daily workouts.
Kennedy said: “He shouted at me when I was showing the other athletes who come here how to do leg squats. Mo said ‘I brought that from the UK. That’s mine’ and he said to stop.
“He had a very bad temper and was rowing with two other athletes who train here.
Another instructor, Chala Doriba, 21, said: “He pushed me out of the gym and asked me to leave because he thought I was copying his routines.
“I reported it to my boss but nothing was done. We didn’t want to cause any problems so whenever Mo came into the gym I would leave so I wouldn’t be there at the same time.”
Last night Haile told The Sun: ”At first Mo and I were friends but now I can say we are enemies. He is trying to ruin me and my reputation.
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“I won’t be watching the London Marathon on Sunday and I’m sure I can still beat him but I hope he wins because he can then pay his bill which he still owes.”
Last night four times Olympic gold medalist Sir Mo, 36, could not be contacted and there was immediate reply from his representatives.
Haile, 46, added he would not welcome Sir Mo back to his hotel in the future.
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