Zimbabwe refuses to extradite ex-Ethiopia leader Mengistu to face death penalty

[JURIST] Zimbabwe will not return former Ethiopian dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] to Ethiopia to face a death sentence, a Zimbabwean Information Ministry official said Tuesday. The Ethiopian Supreme Court sentenced Mengistu to death in absentia on Monday after Ethiopian prosecutors appealed his January 2007 life sentence [JURIST reports] on charges of genocide, homicide, illegal imprisonment, and illegal property seizure. Mengistu ruled Ethiopia from 1974 to 1991, during which time 150,000 university students, intellectuals, and politicians are believed to have been killed. After being overthrown by rebels in 1991, Mengistu fled to Zimbabwe, where he is described as "guest" under the protection of President Robert Mugabe [BBC profile; JURIST news archive].

Zimbabwean opposition party the Movement for Democratic Change [party website], currently locked in a bitter battle with the Mugabe regime over the disputed results of the recent presidential elections [JURIST news archive], has pledged that if party leader Morgan Tsvangirai [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] turns out to have won the country's recent presidential election, Mengistu will be extradited to Ethiopia. Reuters has more. SW Radio Africa has local coverage.

 

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