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Ethiopia opposition members ask for pardons of election protest convictions

[JURIST] Five opposition members in Ethiopia [JURIST news archive] asked for pardons on Wednesday after pleading guilty to charges of attempting to overthrow the government. The five submitted a letter to High Court Judge Adil Ahmed saying that they did not wish to fight the cases against them and asking for a pardon of any crimes. Prosecutors in the case have requested that the defendants, who have been in prison since 2005, receive the death penalty.

In the same case, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi [BBC profile] last week pardoned 38 opposition members and journalists, who had been sentenced to prison for their roles in mass anti-government demonstrations [JURIST reports]. The defendants were convicted of treason and inciting violence [JURIST reports] during anti-government protests that followed Ethiopia's contested 2005 elections [JURIST news archive], which were marred by allegations of fraud [JURIST report]. Last October, an Ethiopian inquiry team charged with investigating the demonstrations said 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. AP has more.

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