Photo: Michael Coghlan via Flickr (CC).
Photo: Michael Coghlan via Flickr (CC).

Dutch court starts trial of Eshetu Alemu for Ethiopian war crimes: On 29 October 2017, the trial of 63-year-old Dutch-Ethiopian national Eshetu Alemu, started in The Hague. He is alleged to have been a henchman for former Marxist dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam and accused of four war crimes for facts which took place during the “Red Terror” purges in northwestern Gojjam province of Ethiopia in the late 1970s. Charges include the “arbitrary detention and cruel and inhuman treatment of civilians and fighters who had laid down their arms”, “the incarceration and inhumane treatment of 240 people” and ordering the deaths of 75 prisoners. 321 victims have been named and witnesses detailed acts of torture. In Ethiopia, Alemu was sentenced to death in absentia for the murder of suspected opponents of the regime. In custody since two years, Alemu denies all the charges. While he acknowledges having been “a senior member of the Marxist-Leninist regime which governed the country” in charge of propaganda, he claims that he never signed an execution order and that he did not have the authority to do so. He also says that he had been targeted for assassination by other political groups. His trial is expected to last for three weeks. Former dictator Mengistu, who is still at large in Zimbabwe, was found guilty in absentia of genocide in 2007. (BBC; News24)