After years on the run to evade justice, a member of former Ethiopian ruler Mengistu Haile Mariam’s government will face trial for his role in the 1970s genocide in the country.
Eshetu Alemu will be tried in Netherlands for war crimes committed in Ethiopia in the late 1970s. He is scheduled to appear in court on November 21, 2016, the Dutch Public Prosecutor’s Office has announced. Alemu has already been convicted and sentenced to death in Ethiopia.
Alemu was serving as a member of the Provisional Military Administrative Council during the reign of called the Dergue. Ethiopia’s 12-year trial of former Dergue officials concluded on December 12, 2006, with the conviction of Mariam and 56 other members of his Communist regime on charges of genocide and murder.
During their 17-year reign, the Dergue killed an estimated 50,000 dissident students, political opponents, and members of the Ethiopian middle class. The Dergue officials faced charges relating to alleged atrocities committed during the 1977-78 ‘Red Terror’, when tens of thousands were killed or disappeared as former Communist dictator Mengistu sought to turn Ethiopia into a Soviet-style workers’ paradise.
According to Human Rights Watch, the Red Terror was a campaign of urban counter-insurgency waged in the main cities of Ethiopia, notably Addis Ababa, between 1976 and 1978. The name ‘Red Terror’ was officially used by the government, and it accurately reflects the way in which excessive violence was used to terrify the population and eliminate dissent. It was one of the most systematic uses of mass murder by the state ever witnessed in Africa.
The number of those who died in the Red Terror is not known — it is certainly well in excess of 10,000. Ethiopia’s courts have convicted 1,018 people since 1994 for participating in the ‘Red Terror’.
Alemu is among the dozens of the dreaded council’s members who fled into exile.