Woyanne court sentences ex-dictator Mengistu to death – By Peter Heinlein, Addis Ababa(VOA)

May 26th, 2008 Print Print Email Email

Ethiopia’s Supreme Court has overruled a lower court and imposed a death sentence on former Marxist ruler Mengistu Haile Mariam for genocide and crimes against humanity during his 17-year rule. VOA’s Peter Heinlein in Addis Ababa reports Mengistu fled to Zimbabwe after his government fell, and was tried in his absence.

Ethiopia’s highest court threw out a January, 2007 court ruling giving Mengistu and 17 of his senior associates life sentences for their part in the deaths of thousands of people between 1974 and 1991. (more…)

Ethiopia’s Supreme Court has overruled a lower court and imposed a death sentence on former Marxist ruler Mengistu Haile Mariam for genocide and crimes against humanity during his 17-year rule. VOA’s Peter Heinlein in Addis Ababa reports Mengistu fled to Zimbabwe after his government fell, and was tried in his absence.

Ethiopia’s highest court threw out a January, 2007 court ruling giving Mengistu and 17 of his senior associates life sentences for their part in the deaths of thousands of people between 1974 and 1991.

In a three-hour reading of the verdict, Justice Desta Gebru said the court has decided to revoke the leniency appeal from the defendants. It sentences them to death.

Justice Gebru agreed with a prosecution appeal that the life sentence was not commensurate with the crimes. After the original trial, which lasted 12-years, the defendants were convicted in 2006 of genocide for torturing and executing political enemies.

Many of the deaths occurred in 1977 and 1978, when Mengistu’s Marxist government, called the Derg, or “the committee,” carried out a purge known as the Red Terror.

Mengistu was an army lieutenant colonel when he led a military coup that overthrew Emperor Haile Selassie. He has been living in exile in Zimbabwe since he was ousted by Ethiopia’s current government in 1991.

But several senior Derg officials were in the courtroom when the verdict was read.

Prosecutor Yoseph Kirkos expressed satisfaction at the high court’s decision. He said the difference between a life sentence and death in absentia may be meaningless now, but it could make a big difference if Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe is ousted in next month’s election.

“For now you can say is no different,” said Yoseph Kirkos. “But for tomorrow maybe the country which protects him, which gives him the right to live there, maybe knows the gravity of the crime, and his involvement in the crime. Maybe one day they can return him. When they look he is a criminal and he is a dangerous guy.”

Former Ethiopian president and historian Negaso Gidada says persons convicted of genocide cannot be pardoned or granted amnesty. He says under Ethiopia’s constitution, only the current president, Girma Woldegiorgis, could commute the sentences.

“In case of person convicted of any crimes stated in sub-article one in these articles and sentenced with the death penalty, the head of state may, without prejudice, commute the punishment to life imprisonment,” said Negaso Gidada.

Negaso and prosecutor Kiros said while the issue of a commuted sentence may be moot for Mengistu, 17 other senior Derg officials are facing death. It was not immediately clear when or how the sentences might be carried out.

Coincidentally, the Supreme Court’s decision came two days before Ethiopia’s national day, when it celebrates the downfall of the Mengistu regime.

  1. mossese
    | #1

    Justice is severed. Let this be a lesson for those who think such time shall never materialize. Be it EPRDF, EPRP, or OPPOSITION under any context.

    As the saying goes… “Thou shall not kill or let some body be killed or be killed”

  2. Tigist
    | #2

    I am upset with Mengistu just because he let stupid Weyannes and evil Meles took over our beloved country. Mengistu destroyed the young and the brightest of Ethiopia in the read terror era. That generation could have been the dynamic of a better Ethiopia. Mengistu failed to do what ever he supposed to do to wipe out of Weyannes. Now Weyannes are a wide spread cancer for mother Ethiopia. However, Weyanne is a cult for stupid tigres and Meles is their god. The whole Weyanne structure is based of fallacy and betrayal. Weyanne will come to an end. There is no question about it. Meles is one ugly looking evil man who goes to rest room a couple of times in a day. He is no god. He will die and go to hell where he belongs to.

  3. | #3

    There is no doubt Mengistu killed so many innocents around the country and against the war with Eritrea; however, these weyane creatures are more worse than Mengistu because their human making and prostituting for westerners could lead the whole country to an AIDS heaven of the heavens.

  4. Zeberga
    | #4

    I take a middle path on the verdict rendered on two reasons: One, I do not recognize the jurisdiction of the Weyanne Court. Woyanne Court does not have the moral ground to pronounce a death sentence on the same like dictators like Meles. Meles as a Butcher in turn does not have the moral basis to order the execution of his alike dictator.
    The bottom line is Mengistu is by far better than Meles in killing his country.
    Second, The death of a Dictator is vindicative but does not bring fruitful results to democracy. It is a political gain for Meles to divert attention over the dispute of annexation of land by the Sudan etc etc pitfalls inculcated by the regime.
    What do we gain if Fekere Selassie is dead or for that matter if Fessiha Desta is dead. It is a political gambling to ease the tension in Tigrai and rest of the country.

  5. | #5

    Mengistu has already dead, what makes difference if somone has no right to do what ever he likes.Melese has also the same fate,please never think that Melese does what he wants to do and he let him go free. tommorrow will come to judge his deeds.the souls of killed fellow ethiopian cry.we are waiting to for time to see melese judged.

  6. Belaye Zeleke
    | #6

    Mengistu killed citizens by the thousands
    Meles killed Ethiopia as a Country

    History will judge who is the worst criminal in African History.

    To all TPLF mafia –as saying goes
    “Besferut Kuna Mesefer Aykerem”

  7. Robele Ababya
    | #7

    I totally agree with the comments by Belaye Zeleke

  8. Et girl
    | #8

    Belay Zeleke

    correction

    Mengistu killed by the MILLIONS

    Mengistu should die!!!
    I cant believe there are some of you who are not supporting this???????
    99% Ethiopians hate Mengistu

    No one is denying hatred for Meles but Mengistu killed more then anyone in Ethiopian history!

  9. biniyam
    | #9

    man man lay yefrdal????

    yewyan mengest bedrge mengesy balselxan lay mot ferdku eyal eylflfe new.are esu lemhonu manew?mengestu lay yemfreds helna alwene? ena bebkula mengsetu xeru sera balelm melse gen esu lay yemefrd beqt yelwem bay ney.agertan wede azeqt wesxe ena kemtwexabte yers bers gecet ewym bezre yemkefafel sera yesrana sentun beybtu yecfcef meri beqat alew beya almnm.yehen yemqwemye kale yengrey lela ewnta kale.esti yetywe zer new etyopya wesx bahun seat tewado yemgeyew hulum beayne quray new yemxebabqew.selzhe hulcenm egi legi teyayzen enensa.

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