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Ethiopia: Prosecutor seeks death penalty for 40 coup plotters.

By Tesfa-Alem Tekle November 28, 2009 (ADDIS ABABA) -- Chief prosecutor in Ethiopia's coup plot case has asked death penalty against a group of 40 people, who are convicted of conspiring a coup plot allegedly backed by a US- based Ethiopian economist teaching at Pennsylvania university. Last week, court in Ethiopia handed down guilty verdict against 27 defendants. Earlier - in August court in absentia convicted 13 others, most living in exile in the same case. Six were acquitted after court found no solid evidence to support the charges. Many of the convicts are former or serving army members who belong to an exiled opposition movement, Ginbot 7. Two among the defendants have admitted their guilt and asked court for mercy. The spokesperson for state minister of justice Mekonnen Bezabih said that death penalty is being sought for the convicted group. He further said that court could see special considerations for the two who pleaded guilty. "Court is asked to pass maximum sentence (death penalty) against them" he said. "At the same time, we have asked court to consider on the sentence for the two who have confessed their activity and showed regret," said Chief prosecutor, Berihu Teweldebirhan who also asked the court to confiscate the assets of eight defendants. Last April, Ethiopia said that its security forces have arrested 36 suspects with weapons, coup plans and other documents in their hand. The group, all said were members of the outlawed Ginbot 7(May 15) opposition movement, were accused of plotting to assassinate top government officials, conspiring to incite rebellion within the army, blow up power and telecom facilities, provoke protests and there by topple Prime minister Meles Zenawi-led government. Leader of the group, Birhanu Nega was elected as a mayor of the capital, Addis Ababa in Ethiopia's 2005 elections. But he was then jailed for orchestrating street protests along dozens of other opposition leaders. After government pardon in 2007, he left for the US where he organized the movement. Birhanu is one of the 13, previously convicted in absentia on the same case, but he has denied any involvement and repeatedly called PM Meles government as 'illegitimate' and stressed a need for its removal. (ST)

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Publication:Sudan Tribune (Sudan)
Date:Nov 29, 2009
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