(Openbaar Ministerie) — The Netherlands National Police has arrested a 61 year old man from Amstelveen for war crimes allegedly committed in Ethiopia. He is suspected of involvement in the detention, torture and murder of civilians as a representative of the Dergue-regime.
Dutch and international media have reported in the 1990s on the man’s possible involvement in crimes against Ethiopians. In Ethiopia, the man has been convicted in absentia for the murder of perceived opponents of the regime and sentenced to death. He was later sentenced to life-long imprisonment as well. The suspect has been residing in the Netherlands for several years and has obtained Dutch nationality.
In the course of the Dutch criminal investigation, several Ethiopians living abroad were heard as witnesses by the police. They made statements on crimes committed in Gojjam Province by the one-time representative of the military dictatorship.
Reign of Terror
In 1974, the Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie was deposed by a military coup by the ‘Dergue’. After an internal power-struggle within the Dergue, colonel Mengistu seized power. Under the Mengistu-regime, Ethiopia experienced bloody years of repression and strife that cost many lives. The regime’s ‘red terror’ , was accompanied by mass arrests, torture and killing by the government.
The Ethiopian authorities have handed part of the case-file that was the basis for the man’s death sentence in that country to the Dutch Prosecutor’s Office. The investigation by the Netherlands International Crimes Unit focuses on specific individual cases of detention, torture and killings in the prison camps of Debre Marcos and Metekel. On the orders of the suspect, in 1978, dozens of prisoners were allegedly killed, after which their bodies were dumped in a mass grave.
The suspect was arrested on 29 September and has been in provisional custody since then. At the search of his home, military identification documents and diplomatic passports were seized.
Today, the Court of First Instance in The Hague has extended the provisional custody of the suspect with ninety days.
Anyone who has important information in relation to the above-mentioned case against the suspect who was arrested in The Netherlands, is kindly requested to contact the Netherlands National Police at the following email address:mailboxDLRTIM@klpd.politie.nl