[JURIST] A Zimbabwe government spokesman said Wednesday that there are no plans to hand Mengistu Haile Mariam [BBC profile] over to Ethiopian authorities after the former Ethiopian dictator was convicted of genocide [JURIST report] Tuesday by Ethiopia's Federal Court 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], during which thousands of Mengistu's political opponents were executed.
Mengistu, who helped depose longtime Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie [BBC profile] in 1974 and then ruled Ethiopia himself from 1977 to 1991, fled to Zimbabwe after rebels eventually forced him from power. Referring to support given by Mengistu to now-Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe in his fight for independence from white Rhodesian rule before Zimbabwe's full independence from Britain in 1980, spokesman William Nhara said "As a comrade of our struggle, Comrade Mengistu and his government played a key and commendable role during our struggle for independence and no one can dispute that.... Comrade Mengistu asked for asylum and he was granted that asylum. That position will not change". Nhara also pointed out there was no extradition treaty between Ethiopia and Zimbabwe. AFP has more.