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Sudan Tribune

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Ethiopia police release more than 2,400 protesters

Nov 10, 2005 (ADDIS ABABA) — Ethiopia police have released more than 2,400 people arrested during bloody protests last week because they were found to have played no role in the violence.

Others are still detained, but the police did not say how many, according to a statement read on state-owned television Thursday.

The prisoners were released from the central police station in the capital, Addis Ababa; Ziway detention camp, some 150 kilometers (90 miles) south of Addis Ababa; and Dedesa military camp, 400 kilometers (250 miles) west of Addis Ababa, the statement said.

It did not say when the 2,417 prisoners were released.

Among the people detained are opposition leaders, including Coalition for Unity and Democracy chairman Hailu Shawel and vice chairman Berhanu Nega and prominent human rights activist Mesfin Wolde Mariam.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said that opposition leaders and newspaper editors will face treason charges, which carry the death penalty in Ethiopia, for their alleged roles in protests last week in which at least 46 people were killed.

On Monday, 24 top opposition leaders were taken to court for the first time since they were detained last week. The court ordered they be held another 14 days during a closed hearing in the same special court where members of a toppled military dictatorship were being tried.

The clashes last week between police and opposition supporters, drew international condemnation and raised questions about Meles’ commitment to democracy. On Wednesday, at least three were reported killed in the first clashes since last week’s violence.

The violence began Nov. 1 after peaceful protests Oct. 31 over the disputed May 15 elections.