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Former Ethiopia dictator convicted of genocide

[JURIST] Former Ethiopian dictator Mengistu Haile Miriam [BBC profile] was found guilty of genocide Tuesday at the conclusion of a 12-year in absentia trial. Mengistu and 72 other former officials were charged with genocide, imprisonment, homicide, and illegal confiscation of property for crimes committed during the "Red Terror" [US LOC backgrounder], where thousands of Mengistu's political opponents were executed. Ethiopia's Federal High Court convicted all but one defendant, only 34 of whom were present for trial. Fourteen defendants died during the course of proceedings and the remaining 25 were tried in absentia. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for December 28 and Mengistu could receive the death penalty.

The verdict was initially scheduled to be delivered in May, but was postponed [JURIST report] to allow the three-judge panel trying the case additional time to review new defense evidence. Mengistu, who has been in exile in Zimbabwe since rebels forced him from power in 1991, has denounced the trial as illegitimate and without proper legal basis. BBC News has more.

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