Ethiopia commutes death sentences for 23 officials

AP News
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Posted: Jun 01, 2011 10:42 AM
Ethiopia commutes death sentences for 23 officials

Ethiopia's president says the government has commuted the death sentences of 23 high-ranking officials from the ousted communist regime.

Girma Wolde Giorgis said Wednesday the sentences have been reduced to 25 years. The group includes the former prime minister and the former vice president to ex-dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam who took power in 1974. Some have already served 20 years.

Religious leaders had called for the move.

Mengistu was driven from power in 1991 by the current regime and lives in exile in Zimbabwe. He was convicted in absentia and sentenced to death in 2008.

Some experts say 150,000 university students, intellectuals and politicians were killed in a nationwide purge by Mengistu's regime, though no one knows for sure how many suspected opponents were killed.