[QODLink]
Africa
Mengistu sentenced to death
Court sentences exiled former Ethiopian ruler to death on genocide charges.
Last Modified: 26 May 2008 14:10 GMT
Mengistu, who ruled Ethiopia for 17 years, is
living in exile in Zimbabwe [AFP]
Mengistu Haile Mariam, the former leader of Ethiopia, has been sentenced to death in absentia on genocide charges by the country's supreme court.
 
Seventeen former officials from his government were also given death sentences on Monday, overturning a previous term of life imprisonment on appeal.
The federal high court had convicted Mengistu and 11 of his aides in December 2006 on 211 counts of genocide, homicide, illegal imprisonment and illegal property seizure.
 
Mengistu, 71, an army lieutenant colonel, ruled Ethiopia from 1974 as head of a Marxist government known as the Derg.
The genocide charges arose from a crackdown against opponents in 1977-78 known as the "Red Terror", in which more than a million people were tortured and killed by the Derg.
 
'A special guest'
 
Mengistu has lived in comfortable exile in Zimbabwe since he was removed from power in 1991.
 
After Mengistu's trial last year, Robert Mugabe, the president of Zimbabwe, ruled out his extradition, saying, "Comrade Mengistu still remains a special guest".
 
Mengistu was among 25 defendants tried in absentia.
 
Legesse Afsaw, known as "the butcher of Tigre", former Ethiopian vice-president Fisseha Desta and former prime minister Fikresellassie Wogderes were among those sentenced to death along with Mengistu.
 
A further 60 defendants were also found guilty of genocide, but only by a majority 2-1 ruling by the judges, who acquitted some on several lesser charges.

One defendant was acquitted of all charges.

Of the 73 accused, 14 have died and only 33 were present in court.

Harsher sentence

The court that passed life sentences in January 2007 accepted pleas for leniency from the defence, but Desta Gebru, the supreme court judge, rejected them on Monday.

The court instead followed the request of the prosecution to toughen the sentence imposed on Mengistu.
 
Gebru said: "The court has decided to revoke the leniency appeal from the defendants. It has sentenced them to death.
  
"They have tortured and executed thousands of innocent people in  public, which applies as genocide according to Ethiopian law."
Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
Featured
Booming global trade in 50-million-year-old amber stones is lucrative, controversial, and extremely dangerous.
Legendary Native-American High Bird was trained in ancient warrior traditions, which he employed in World War II.
Hounded opposition figure says he's hoping for the best at sodomy appeal but prepared to return to prison.
Fears of rising Islamophobia and racial profiling after two soldiers killed in separate incidents.
Group's culture of summary justice is back in Northern Ireland's spotlight after new sexual assault accusations.