Ethiopia: journalists cleared of “genocide”

An Ethiopian judge dismissed charges of attempted genocide and treason against 111 people arrested after 2005 election protests. Among those cleared were journalists and publishers. Amnesty International called the charges “absurd,” and adopted the accused as “prisoners of conscience.” The accused maintained the trial was political and all but two refused to co-operate. They had been in custody for 15 months, and one is a female journalist who gave birth in prison. Several opposition leaders remain in custody, accused of trying to violently overthrow the government.

Almost 200 people died in two waves of protests over charges of vote-rigging—denied by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. The genocide charges stemmed from accusations that members of Meles’ Tigray ethnic group were targeted during the protests. The opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy blames the deaths on the security forces. (BBC, Reuters, April 9)

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