RealNews

Defense Starts Against Ethiopian Leaders

Nine years into the trial of former dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam and his regime, attorneys finally opened the defense case Tuesday against 209 charges of crimes against humanity. The genocide trial of Mengistu and 69 of his top aides has become a lesson in the challenges of using a local justice system to prosecute crimes committed by a former dictator and his government in a war-ravaged country. As Iraqi and U.S. officials begin debating how to try former Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein, the trials once hailed as “Africa’s Nuremberg,” could provide an example of the difficulties local courts have with these kinds of cases. While no one knows how many people Mengistu’s Marxist regime killed during the 1970s nationwide purge of students, intellectuals and politicians, some experts estimate 150,000 suspected government opponents were killed. Full Story

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