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Ethiopia

Yearbook 2007

Ethiopia. After twelve years of trial, former dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam was sentenced in January in his absence to life imprisonment. Along with eleven of his closest advisers, he was charged with 211 counts of genocide, murder, illegal imprisonment and illegal possession of property. According to CountryAAH, a total of 73 representatives of the previous regime have been charged with serious abuse, but 14 had died before the judges fell and 25 had been investigated in their absence.

2007 Ethiopia

The unrest in the 2005 parliamentary elections also had its legal ramifications. Over 100 oppositionists, including about twenty journalists, were facing trial for treason, rioting and attempted genocide in connection with protests against alleged electoral fraud. The trials ended with 30 life sentences, but all were quickly pardoned. Most of the others were acquitted. The Ethiopian government had been subjected to strong international criticism for the harsh treatment of the opposition and had been deprived of some assistance.

During the year, the country's army was drawn ever deeper into the conflict in Somalia. The army entered the neighboring country in December 2006 on the side of the Provisional Government to drive away the Islamist militia that has taken control of large areas, including the capital Mogadishu. But the Islamists conducted effective guerrilla warfare and even clan-based militias offered resistance. Dozens of Ethiopian soldiers were killed during the year.

Four Swedes, including a 17-year-old girl, were detained in Ethiopia for months on suspicion of terrorist activity in Somalia. They were released following Swedish pressure without concrete charges being made against them.

In the Ethiopian state of Somali in the Ogaden region, unrest also occurred. In April, 77 people were killed when the guerrilla movement Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) attacked an oil field in which a Chinese company conducted test drilling. Nine Chinese were among the victims. Struggles were reported sporadically throughout the rest of the year, but all information was difficult to assess as the area was basically closed to foreigners. Both MSF and the Red Cross were prevented from conducting relief operations there.

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