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38 Ethiopian opponents claim responsibility for post-poll violence

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June 24, 2007 (ADDIS ABABA) — 38 Ethiopian opposition activists convicted after violent protests in the wake of contested 2005 elections have admitted their "mistakes", their lawyer said Sunday.

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Ethiopian opposition leader for the Coalition of Unity and Democracy (CUD) Hailu shawel, casts his vote at a polling station in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa May 15, 2005. (Reuters).

The lawyer said the Thirty-eight accused, convicted by the High Court on June 11 for violating the constitution and trying to launch a rebellion, had signed a document to accept responsibility for the violence — a move that could prompt their release.

"All the convicted 38 have agreed and signed a document accepting responsibility over the post-election violence. They have acknowledged to have made mistakes at that time," lawyer Wondawuk Ayele told AFP.

"The court had previously asked them to do so but they had refused. This is a new development and could finalize their release."

Ethiopia put more than 100 opposition figures on trial, accused of plotting a coup after disputed 2005 elections which the opposition claims were rigged.

The spokesman for Prime Minister Meles Zenawi on Sunday denied that a deal had been struck for the activists’ release.

"So far there hasn’t been any proposal from the government, nor has there been any mediation involving any other country," Bereket Simon said.

"I’m not aware of any developments regarding their release."

Earlier this year, the Ethiopian parliament approved a report which said 193 civilians and six policemen died during post-election violence in 2005 in one of the darkest chapters in the country’s recent past.

The violence in Addis Ababa and other cities in June and November 2005 amid protests over the May 15 polls "occured due to infancy of the democratic system of the country", the report said.

The figures compiled by the inquiry were three times higher than the government’s official death toll of 54 which prompted howls of protest from Western donors.

But opposition groups dismissed the report as "baseless", arguing that it failed to hold the State accountable for the bloody crackdown.

(AFP)

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  • 26 June 2007 15:20, by Tezebet

    Tha above story is totally wrong. What it should be is they have signed a document to accept PARTIAL responsibility for the violence. It is not admitting a mistake, but it is a deal by the government for their release.

    Sudan Tribune should reflect the truth in your story line. If you are taking the story from another source amke sure you are telling the world the right story.

    These convicted prisoner of conscience are heroes of Ethiopian People, fighting for peace and democracy in the country.

    View online : http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.ph...

    repondre message

  • 6 July 2007 18:36, by William

    There is more regarding the release on the BBC Media, (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/6236990.stm)some clarity regarding detail of the charges the 38 defendants have claimed responsibility (partial or whole) for would be welcomed. What exactly is it they claim they have done and what perhaps more pertinently is the legal criteria that has stipulated they may now be released because of this development?

    View online : 38 Prisoners to be freed

    repondre message

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