Martin Fletcher in Harare
February 5, 2009
For 17 years Mengistu Haile Mariam, the former Ethiopian dictator who slaughtered opponents on an industrial scale in the “Red Terror”, has lived in Zimbabwe as the honoured guest of Robert Mugabe, dividing his time between a heavily guarded villa in Harare, a farm near the capital and a retreat on glorious Lake Kariba.
Last year an Ethiopian court sentenced the “Butcher of Addis” to death after convicting him of genocide in absentia but Mr Mugabe flatly refused to extradite the man who helped to arm Zanu (PF)’s guerrillas during Zimbabwe’s 1970s liberation war.
Suddenly, however, the future of one of Africa’s worst tyrants looks less assured. Next week the Zimbabwe opposition Movement for Democratic Change will enter a unity government with Zanu (PF) and Nelson Chamisa, its chief spokesman, told The Times yesterday that Mengistu’s extradition to Ethiopia would be “high on the agenda” of that new administration.
“Zimbabwe should not be a safe haven or resting place for serial human rights violators like Mr Mengistu,” he said. “We can’t shelter purveyors of injustice.”
Mengistu Haile Mariam in a picture
taken in June 1989
Related: Ethiopian court hands death sentence to Mengistu
By Tsegaye Tadesse
Mon May 26, 2008
ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopia’s supreme court on Monday sentenced to death former Marxist ruler Mengistu Haile Mariam, granting a prosecution appeal that argued a life sentence he was given for genocide was unequal to his crimes.
But Mengistu, who has lived a life of comfortable exile in Zimbabwe since he was driven from power in 1991, is unlikely to face punishment unless Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe loses a run-off election next month and cedes power.
“Considering the prosecution’s appeal that a life sentence was not commensurate to the crimes committed by the Mengistu regime, the court decided to sentence him to death,” the court said in its ruling.
The prosecution in July appealed a life term handed to Mengistu in January 2007, after he was found guilty of genocide for thousands of killings during a 17-year rule that included famine, war and the “Red Terror” purges of suspected opponents. Read More.