Former Intelligence Chief of Ethiopia Formally Charged in Absentia

Getachew-Assefa-chargedMay 7, 2019 (Ezega.com) -- The Federal Attorney General of Ethiopia has formarlly charged the former intelligence chief of Ethiopia Getachew Assefa and dozens of other high level former officials of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS).

Getachew Assefa and three other former officials, Atsebha Gidey, Assefa Belay, and Shishay Leul, were charged in absentia at the Lideta Federal High Court, according to a press release issued by office of the Federal Attorney General.

The charged individuals are suspected of gross human rights violations, including torture, forced confessions, sodomy, rape, electrocution, and arbitrary detention of people including in secret facilities.

It has been a while since Getachew Assefa was wanted by the federal government and warrant issued for his arrest.

In January 2019, the Attorney General of Ethiopia requested help from the House of Peoples’ Representatives (HPR) to arrest former head of Intelligence chief Getachew Assefa.

The Attorney General, BerhanuTsegaye, specifically asked HPR to apply pressure on the Tigray regional state to hand over the former chief.

Getachew Assefa and other former officials are believed to be in Tigray regional state, although no concrete information is available about their whereabouts.

It is unknown what the central government will do next to bring the accused to justice.

Getachew Assefa led the Ethiopian National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) for about two decades until he was replaced by General Adem Mohammed in June 2018.

Getachew Assefa is one of nine Tigrayan People's Liberation Front (TPLF) executive committe members, the leading organ of the TPLF. He is rarely seen in public whether in Tigray or elsewhere.

In addition to facing charges at the federal level, Getachew Assefa is also the subject of US sactions under the Magnitsky Act. Last year, Mike Coffman, a United States Congressman started the process of seeking sanctions to be slapped on Assefa. In October 2018, in a letter addressed to Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and Secretary of the Treasury, Steven T. Mnuchin, he described Getachew Assefa as a criminal and ruthless human rights violator, who needed to be sanctioned along with all persons who aided him during his reign of terror.

Since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power dozens of former government officials have been arrested for corruption and human rights abuses. The most notable among these are the arrest of dozens of former of officials of METEC (state-owned Metals and Engineering Corporation), including its former Director General Major General Kinfe Dagnew.

Although Ethiopians by and large cheered the arrests, many felt the arrests were selective and targeted only certain ethnic groups, but specially Tigrayans. These critics cite many former high level officials who they believe are equally guilty of crimes, including corruption.

Ezega

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