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» 07.10.2010 - Ethiopia urged to free all political prisoners
» 25.02.2009 - Eritrea rejects mediation effort to end border row
» 09.07.2008 - Ethiopia "surprised" by fascist monuments in Italy
» 22.06.2008 - Ogaden rebel leader dies
» 15.01.2007 - Ethiopia gears up for millennium party
» 11.01.2007 - Life sentence for ex-Ethiopian dictator
» 07.12.2006 - Ethiopia court to decide ex-Dictator's case
» 20.05.2003 - Lutherans pay tribute to slain Ethiopian pastor

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Society | Human rights

Ethiopian ex-dictator found guilty of genocide

afrol News, 12 December - A panel of judges in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa today found the country's former Marxist dictator, Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam, guilty of committing genocide, illegal imprisonment and the abuse of power. Zimbabwe still rejects extraditing Mr Mengistu from his comfortable exile.

The 12-year trial against the ex-dictator will be nailed on 28 December when judges are expected to impose a death penalty to a man accused of killing thousands of Ethiopians during his reign of terror. During the trial, judges have combed through 8,000 pages pf testimonies of hundreds of witnesses.

Mr Mengistu, a lowest ranking soldier, came to power after toppling Emperor Haile Selassie in a bloody coup in 1974.

Since his regime was overthrown by rebels loyal to current Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in 1991, Mr Mengistu has been living in exile in Zimbabwe, whose leader accorded him with a permanent refugee status and denied requests to extradite him for prosecution.

Zimbabwe President Mugabe said ex-dictator Mengistu would risk deportation only if he makes political comments to the media. The Zimbabwean government holds that Mr Mengistu paid extraordinary services to its black majority's fight against the white supremacist regime of Ian Smith in the 1970s, despite its international obligations to extradite a genocide-convicted person.

During the Ethiopian trial, ex-President Mengistu's Marxist regime was also accused of killing innocent people in 1977 and 1978 under a campaign called "Red Terror". During this brutal campaign, the government arrested its suspected opponents, executed them and threw their bodies into the streets.

Mr Mengitsu - who has been called "the Stalin of Africa" - was accused of killing his predecessor, Emperor Halie Selassie by strangling. He was said to have buried the lifeless body of Emperor Selassie in a latrine in his palace.

According to charges by the prosecutors, the former officials also killed more than 1,000 people, which included the execution of 60 ministers, top officials and members of the royal family by firing squad.

Ethiopia reportedly experienced hell as soon as the former soldier forced Emperor Halie Selassie from power in 1974. This followed war, brutality and famine in Ethiopia, where the revolutionary government forced peasants into collectivisation, causing a dramatic drop in productivity and an extreme famine.

It was reported that the Mengistu government asked families to pay for the bullets that killed their members when they went to the health facilities to collect bodies of political opponents.

News from some quarters stated that the Ethiopian government is in a haste to pass judgment on the accused persons, who might face death penalty when they are found guilty of the charges brought against them. Bereaved families have also been waiting decades to see justice take its course.

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