63-year-old Ethiopian man goes on trial at the Hague for ordering the execution of 75 people

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Eshetu Alemu, an Ethiopian with dual Dutch nationality was on trial at The Hague on Monday for multiple war crimes.

 Ethiopian man

He is accused of ordering the execution of 75 people in a church during the bloody purges in Ethiopia in the late 1970s, which came to be known as the “Red Terror”.

The 63-year-old – an aide to the now-exiled dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam – is also accused of torture and inhumane treatment, including tying prisoners up, suspending them in mid-air and beating their bare feet with sticks.

These are the charges he had hoped to escape by going into exile in Europe. Ethiopia sentenced him to death in his absence.  Now a Dutch citizen, over the next two weeks some of the alleged victims will share their experiences in court with the hope of seeing long-awaited justice done.

Mengistu ruled Ethiopia from 1977 with an iron fist following the overthrow of Emperor Haile Selassie in 1974.  He was then himself ousted in 1991 after a series of revolts by insurgent groups.

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