Death Sentences Recommended in Ethiopia

Associated Press Writer

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) -- Ethiopian prosecutors on Monday asked for the death penalty for 38 politicians and activists accused of inciting violence in an attempt to overthrow the government.
The court is expected to issue a sentence on July 16. The accused, who have chosen not to defend themselves, did not speak during Monday's session but will have a chance to do so during next week's court session.
"They have not shown any sign of regret in the court, and they have not (accepted) the sovereignty of the court," prosecutor Abraham Tetemke said during Monday's court session. "Therefore we request that they should be punished with capital punishment."
The prosecution said they felt the maximum penalty was appropriate for the leaders, who were part of a group of more than 100 people jailed for allegedly inciting violence after Ethiopia's controversial May 2005 elections. While there is a death row in Ethiopia, no one has been executed in at least eight years.
"They have attempted an outrage against the constitution and the constitutional order, and attempted to disintegrate the nation," Tetemke said. "They have created violence and many people lost their lives. ... This criminal act has caused a serious social crisis."
After court adjourned Monday, family members of the accused shuffled out silently, some wiping away tears.
Mulatu Teklu, 67, walked dazedly out of court after he learned that his youngest son, 32-year-old Yenene Mulatu, could die for his actions.
"I'm very sorry," he said, shaking his head. "I'm very sorry."
Others were more optimistic. Asrat Tassie, a former defendant and opposition politician who was among 25 defendants released from jail in April, said he was sure there would be a pardon.
In Washington, a State Department spokesman stopped short of criticizing Monday's recommendation.
"We call on the Ethiopian government and high court to take action in making a final sentencing determination, which is consistent with the greater objectives of bolstering the rule of law and promoting much-needed reconciliation," said the spokesman, Sean McCormack.

posted by Ethiounited Moderator at11:12 PM


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