[JURIST] An Ethiopian court convicted 39 opposition members Monday of treason and inciting violence [JURIST report] for their roles in mass anti-government demonstrations [JURIST report] in the wake of Ethiopia's 2005 elections [JURIST news archive]. The opposition members, most of whom belong to the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) [party website], will be sentenced on July 8 and face either life imprisonment or the death sentence.
None of the defendants, who were previously barred from meeting with their defense lawyers [JURIST report], offered a defense to the charges. Last October, an Ethiopian inquiry team charged with investigating the demonstrations announced that approximately 193 civilians were killed by Ethiopian security forces [JURIST report] during the violence, an estimate nearly three times the official number initially reported by the government. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour [official profile, JURIST report] and the African Union [JURIST report] have both sternly criticized Ethiopia's human rights record. The Ethiopian government charged an additional 55 people [JURIST report] affiliated with the CUD last week with plotting to overthrow the government. AP has more.