[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
Swathes of the British electorate continue to show discontent with all things European, including immigration.
Astronomers have captured images of primordial galaxies that helped light up the cosmos after the Big Bang.
Critics assail British photographer's portrayal of indigenous people, but he says he's highlighting their plight.
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
Featured
No one convicted after 58 people gunned down in cold blood in 2009 in the country's worst political mass killing.
While hosting the World Internet Conference, China tries Tiananmen activist for leaking 'state secrets' to US website.
Once staunchly anti-immigrant, some observers say the conservative US state could lead the way in documenting migrants.
NGOs say women without formal documentation are being imprisoned after giving birth in Malaysia.
Public stripping and assault of woman and rival protests thereafter highlight Kenya's gender-relations divide.