Ethiopia: Family waits for son’s killer to face trial

The 40-day mourning period for Arefany Wynn ended on Sunday. As is their custom, his Ethiopian relatives gathered one last time at his family’s home in Santa Clara to pray.

But for those who loved the 20-year-old student and athlete killed in Addis Ababa last month, the end of the traditional mourning period brings no sense of closure.

“We still have no answers,” said his father, Brunet Lux. “We wait and wait, but we are told these things take time.”

Wynn was a bright, young man who traveled to Ethiopia to learn more about the homeland of his mother, Sarah Belay. On Jan. 10, he was out with relatives in an upscale section of Addis Ababa. A fight among others broke out at the restaurant, so they decided to leave. But as they were driving away, a police officer with an AK-47 inexplicably sprayed bullets at their car, killing Wynn.

Another cop tackled the shooting police officer, who was arrested quickly. The case was turned over to prosecutors and the family hoped for a quick disposition of the case. The investigation still has not been completed. It could be several months before the case goes to trial. According to the U.S. State Department, trials in Ethiopia take a year or more.

Sharing a family’s pain

Family of Arefany bob wynn shot and dead by police in ethiopia
Family of Arefany shot and dead by police in Ethiopia

My Jan. 21 column about Wynn’s death elicited a range of responses from readers. Some thought his parents never should have allowed a 20-year-old to travel to Ethiopia, a poor country with a repressive government. But other readers understood. Many children of immigrants visit relatives in their homelands. And while Americans have been warned about the possibility of terrorist attacks in Ethiopia, this incident doesn’t appear to be linked to terrorism. Just a bad cop with too powerful a weapon.

Most of my mail was from people who wanted to help the family with funeral and legal expenses. They lost most of their belongings in a house fire last year. So far, friends have raised nearly $10,000, but an additional $9,000 in bills remain. To help, send a check to Brunet Lux, P.O. Box 2762, Santa Clara, CA 95055. Write “Wynn Memorial” in the memo line.

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