Ethiopia Corruption Crackdown (UPDATE)

Former Director General of METEC, Major General Kinfe Dagnew, was arrested on corruption charges on November 13th, 2018. (Photo: Fana Broadcasting)

AP

By ELIAS MESERET | Updated November 13, 2018

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Ethiopia has detained the former head of a large military-run industrial conglomerate, a day after the country’s attorney general disclosed that several hundred million dollars was embezzled from the firm.

The state broadcaster ETV reported that Maj. Gen. Kinfe Dagnew, former head of the Metal and Engineering Corporation, was arrested near the Sudanese border where he was trying to flee.

The arrest is viewed as a direct hit on Ethiopia’s military establishment, the latest of several major changes implemented by reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, 42, since he came to power in April.

Images of the former official in handcuffs arriving by helicopter in the capital, Addis Ababa, have been aired repeatedly by the state broadcaster. The news of Kinfe’s arrest has captured the attention of many in this East African nation as he was one of the most feared figures in the country until a few months ago.

“He was a dictator who was not willing to solve our problems,” Desalegn Kebede, who did business with him, told the Associated Press. “I’m very happy that he is now under custody. We hope that he will get what he deserves.”

Ethiopia’s Attorney General Berhanu Tsegaye stated on Monday that 27 suspects were arrested from the military-run company on allegations of corruption. He alleged that an estimated $2 billion worth of procurements were made without an open tender.

In addition, a further 36 individuals were apprehended for alleged human rights violation.

The previous government of Ethiopia, a close security ally of the West, was often accused of rights violations by international groups and activists. Abiy’s new government has carried out several reforms including releasing several thousand political prisoners, permitting opposition groups to return from exile, dropping terror charges against prominent opposition leaders and relaxing restrictions against the media.

But still ethnic-based clashes have broken out in some parts of the country and pose the most serious threat to Abiy’s leadership of Ethiopia’s 100 million people.


Related:
Video: Former Director General of METEC, Major General Kinfe Dagnew, who was taken into custody today, arrives in AddisAbaba (Fana Broadcasting)

Ethiopia Arrests 63 Suspected of Rights Abuses, Corruption

AP

By Elias Meseret 

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Ethiopia has arrested 63 intelligence officials, military personnel and businesspeople on allegations of rights violations and corruption, the country’s attorney general announced Monday.

The sweeping high-profile arrests carried out in recent days are a result of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s order for a months-long investigation into misdoings under the previous government.

Attorney General Berhanu Tsegaye told the media that some of those arrested are suspected of abuses of prisoners including “beatings, forced confessions, sodomy, rape, electrocution and even killings.”

Some of those arrested are accused of mismanaging a state-owned military corporation, the Metal and Engineering Corporation, that was looted in a multi-billion dollar corruption scheme, he said.

Berhanu also said that Ethiopia’s former spy chief is suspected of involvement in an attempt to assassinate the new prime minster at a rally on June 23. While other officials implicated in the plot have fled the country, the former intelligence chief is now residing in northern Ethiopia and should turn himself in to authorities, he said.


Attorney General Berhanu Tsegaye told local journalists on Monday, November 12th the detention comes after five months of investigation. (Photo: Fana Broadcasting)

Yilikal Getnet, an opposition figure, told The Associated Press the public had demanded the arrests of the former officials.

“These have been issues that we in the opposition have long been calling for, too,” he said, adding that Ethiopia needs a truth and reconciliation process to investigate past misdoings. “The ruling party alone can’t bring justice for all these atrocities committed in the past.”

Under the previous government, Ethiopia, a close security ally of the West, used to be accused of rights violations by human rights activists. Since Abiy, 42, came to power in April his new government has released several thousand political prisoners, permitted exiled opposition groups to return home, dropped terror charges against prominent opposition politicians and permitted the media to operate more freely.

Despite the reforms, ethnic-based clashes are continuing in some parts of Ethiopia and pose the most serious threat to Abiy’s leadership of this East African nation of 100 million people.

Amnesty International welcomed the arrests.

“These arrests are an important first step toward ensuring full accountability for the abuses that have dogged the country for several decades,” said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s East Africa Director. “Many of these officials were at the helm of government agencies infamous for perpetrating gross human rights violations, such as torture and the arbitrary detention of people including in secret facilities. We urge the government of Prime Minister Abiy to take further steps to ensure justice and accountability for all past human rights violations and abuses, while at the same time ensuring all the individuals arrested receive fair trials.”


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