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Zimbabwe says will not extradite former Ethiopian dictator

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Dec 13, 2006 (JOHANNESBURG) — After the guilty verdict passed by an Ethiopian court in absentia against the former Ethiopian president, Zimbabwe announced that it would not extradite the former Marxist leader to Addis Ababa.

Zimbabwe’s Acting Information Minister Paul Mangwana said Harare will not hand over former Ethiopian dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam following his conviction for genocide in Addis Ababa on Tuesday.

According to the Zimbabwe independent news agency ZIM, Mangwana declared "Comrade Mengistu asked for asylum and he was granted that asylum. That position will not change."

Mengistu Haile Mariam, the reviled former Marxist leader of Ethiopia, was yesterday found guilty of genocide at the end of a 12-year trial in Addis Ababa. The 69-year-old dictator lives a lavish but reclusive existence in Zimbabwe, where he fled in 1991.

The former Ethiopian dictator who has lived in exile in Zimbabwe since fleeing an armed rebellion that ended his rule in 1991, was accused of killing thousands of people during his 17-year rule which began with the toppling of Emperor Haile Selassie in 1974 and included war, brutal purges and famine.

Mengistu, who now reportedly works as a security consultant to President Robert Mugabe, is said to have advised the Zimbabwean President to pre-empt a possible mass revolt by depopulating opposition-supporting urban areas through the controversial slum-clearing exercise last year.

The slum demolition exercise condemned by the United Nations as a violation of poor people’s rights left at least 700 000 Zimbabweans without home or food while another 2.4 million people were also indirectly affected by the clean-up exercise.

(ST/ZIM)

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