The Amharic program of Deutsche-welle radio reported today former Dergue officials might be pardoned. According to its reporter in Addis Ababa, Tadesse Engdaw, a press conference to announce the release on pardon of the prisoners has been scheduled for Saturday at Hilton Addis was cancelled without explanation. The reporter claims to have receive a letter of invitation to attend the press conference, while he was informed of the cancellation by phone.
It is to be recalled that former Dergue officials had been charged and convicted for genocide; that is, the red terror campaign of the 1970s that cost about 50,000 Ethiopians. An Ethiopian court sentenced most of them to life and a handful earned death sentence, which is in effect a life sentence as Ethiopia executed only 2 criminals in 20 years.
The idea of pardoning the former Dergue officials has been floating around since 2008. However, the government has been extremely reluctant due to the divisive nature of the matter.
The Deutsche-welle reporter refrained from sharing his info as to who are on the pardon list.
It is not unlikely that the government might show magnanimity by pardoning by those sentenced to life sentence, while commuting the death sentence of the rest to a life sentence, at least for now.
According to Ethiopian Criminal Code, a person sentenced to life imprisonment is legible to apply for probation after serving 20 years, though the release on probation is the discretion of the government.
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