The Mengistu genocide trial in Ethiopia

Tiba,FK 2007, The Mengistu genocide trial in Ethiopia, Journal of international criminal justice, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 513-528, doi: 10.1093/jicj/mqm021.

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Title The Mengistu genocide trial in Ethiopia
Author(s) Tiba,FKORCID iD for Tiba,FK
Journal name Journal of international criminal justice
Volume number 5
Issue number 2
Start page 513
End page 528
Publisher Oxford University Press
Place of publication Oxford, England
Publication date 2007-05
ISSN 1478-1387
Summary This article analyses the sentencing judgment issued on 11 January 2007 bythe Ethiopian Federal High Court in the case of Mengistu Hailemariam andhis co-accused who had been tried, among others, on charges of genocide andcrimes against humanity. This was the first African trial where an entire regimewas brought to justice before a national court for atrocities committed while inpower. Twenty-five of the 55 accused found guilty, including Mengistu, were triedin absentia (Mengistu remains in exile in Zimbabwe). The trial took 12 years,making it one of the longest ever trials for genocide. In December 2006, Mengistuwas convicted by majority vote of genocide and crimes against humanity pursuant toArticle 281of the1957 Ethiopian Penal Code, which includes ‘political groups’amongthe groups protected against genocide. A dissenting judge took the position that theaccused should have been convicted of aggravated homicide because the relevant part of the provision had been repealed. A few weeks later, the Court, by majority,sentenced the top tier of the accused to life imprisonment, taking into accountcertain extenuating circumstances. If not for these, the death penalty would havebeen imposed. In addition to ensuring some accountability, the judgmentis important for providing an official and detailed account of what happenedin those years in Ethiopia under Mengistu’s reign. Given that in Ethiopia there areno official gazettes where court judgments are published, it is unlikely that the publicwill be able to read the judgment and thus become aware of what had happened.In addition to analysing the reasoning of the court, this article also looks intothe prevailing political circumstances in the country and reflects upon the trialand the reception that this important decision has had, and will receive, in thewider community.
Language eng
DOI 10.1093/jicj/mqm021
Field of Research 180110 Criminal Law and Procedure
Socio Economic Objective 940403 Criminal Justice
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2007, Oxford University Press
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Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Law
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