Ethiopia’s ex-ruler Mengistu sentenced to life

January 11th, 2007 Print Print Email Email

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – A TPLF court sentenced former Marxist ruler Mengistu Haile Mariam to life in prison for genocide on Thursday, but the former dictator is exiled safe from the punishment in Zimbabwe.After a 12-year trial, Mengistu was found guilty in absentia of killing thousands of people during a 17-year reign which began with Emperor Haile Selassie’s ouster in 1974 and included war, brutal purges and famine.

He lives a lavishly reclusive life in Zimbabwe whose government says it will not extradite him.

“Considering the age of the accused … and the state of their health … the court has rejected the prosecution’s call for the death penalty and passed life imprisonment,” the court said.

Mengistu was convicted of genocide last month.

He fled to Zimbabwe in 1991 after he was ousted by guerrillas led by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

He was tried in absentia in Addis Ababa with 73 others, including former Prime Minister Fikre Selassie Wogderesse and former Vice-President Fissiha Desta.

Some 40 officials are in jail while 27 are being tried in absentia. A few have died since proceedings began in 1992 and the trial formally started in 1994

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