ETHIOPIA. FIGURE IN ETHIOPIA 'RED TERROR' SENTENCED TO DEATH
December 9, 2005: the Federal High Court sentenced to death Major Melaku Tefera, one of Marxist dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam's top soldiers, for genocide during the country's 1970s "Red Terror" campaign.
The Court handed down the death sentence Tefera, who had been administrator of the former Gondar province, Ethiopian state television reported.
Melaku, one of Mengistu's most feared aides known as "The Butcher of Gondar", was convicted of genocide, abetting 971 murders and injuring 83 during the 1977-78 "Red Terror" campaign.
Mengistu launched the purge during which tens of thousands suspected of opposing his rule were rounded up, gunned down and their bodies thrown into the streets.
"Melaku was also found guilty of shattering with bullets the heads of people accused of revolutionary activities and for ordering that bodies be thrown in public places and on street sides for days, as reminders to others," state television reported the court as saying.
The court also found Melaku guilty of denying those killed a decent burial, instead ordering the bodies to be put in mass graves.
His conviction was part of an 11-year court case in which he and some 40 others, soldiers and officials during Mengistu's 17-year "Dergue" regime, have been on trial for genocide.
Mengistu, in exile in Zimbabwe, is among those charged and standing trial in absentia.
Melaku's death sentence is subject to approval by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who led the guerrilla campaign that overthrew Mengistu in 1991.
The charges against the former officials, who have spent up to 14 years in prison, include the killing of thousands including Emperor Haile Selassie, who was dethroned in 1974 by Mengistu. (Sources: Reuters, 09/12/2005)