Ethiopia ‘Red Terror’ aide Alemu jailed for war crimes

An Ethiopian soldier stands inside the Martyrs Memorial to the "Red Terror" at the Holy Trinity Church in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 24 February 2004.Image copyright
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Eshetu Alemu is accused of ordering the execution of 75 people during Ethiopia’s “Red Terror”

A Dutch court has sentenced an aide to Ethiopia’s former communist ruler to life imprisonment for war crimes.

Eshetu Alemu, 63, was found guilty of crimes including the execution of 75 people during Ethiopia’s “Red Terror” purges in the late 1970s.

The dual Ethiopian-Dutch national and former aide to then-ruler Mengistu Haile Mariam denied all the charges against him.

More than 300 victims were named in four war crimes charges.

Ethiopia has already sentenced him to death in absentia.

Prosecutors said that Alemu was a henchman for Mengistu in the north-west Gojjam province.

The case was tried under Dutch universal jurisdiction laws at the district court in The Hague.

Presiding judge Mariette Renckens told the court that Alemu was “guilty of war crimes and treated his fellow citizens in a cold and calculating manner… including robbing them of their right to life”.

Families of victims applauded the sentence, but neither Alemu nor his lawyers were present in court.


The Mengistu regime and the Red Terror

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Mengistu Haile Mariam governed Ethiopia between 1977 and 1991

Marxist strongman Mengistu Haile Mariam ruled Ethiopia between 1977 and 1991 following the overthrow of Emperor Haile Selassie in 1974.

There was significant repression under his communist regime. This became known as the “Red Terror”.

Mengistu was ousted in 1991 after a series of revolts by insurgent groups. He then fled to Zimbabwe, where he still resides.

In 2007, Mengistu was found guilty in absentia at an Ethiopian court of genocide

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