Woyanne charges 46 with ‘assassination plot’ – ADDIS ABABA (AFP)
Ethiopia on Thursday charged 46 people, most of them ex-military, of plotting to assassinate government officials, a government spokesman said.
“The charges can be summed up as conspiring to kill different government officials and conspiring to demolish public utilities,” Communications Minister Bereket Simon told reporters.
“The prosecution presented the charges to the court today,” he said, more than a month after their arrest.
Authorities are holding 32 out of the 46 suspects with the rest believed to have fled to the United States, Europe, Eritrea and Sudan.
Ethiopian authorities in April said they had unearthed a plot by senior serving and former military officers aligned with the opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) to kill top government officials and attack key infrastructure.
The group has been detained and held in communicado for more than a month.
Bereket denied accusations that detaining the men for over a month without charge violated regulations, saying national anti-terrorism laws allowed police to hold suspects without charge for as long as in necessary.
“No constitutional right was abrogated,” he said.
Authorities accuse the CUD’s leader Berhanu Nega of masterminding the alleged plot. CUD won an unprecedented number of seats in the 2005 elections, which observers said fell short of international standards.
Around 200 people died in post-election violence that erupted after the CUD accused Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s party of rigging the ballot.
Berhanu, currently living in exile in the United States, was elected mayor of Addis Ababa in the polls. He was subsequently jailed for two years and left the country after his release.