The trial of Mengistu Haile Mariam and the genocide in Ethiopia. Part 2. The Conviction

Firew Tiba, Senior Lecturer in Law at Deakin University, 26. February 2022

In this two-part article, Dr. Firew Tiba analyses the trials of Mengistu Haile Mariam and other members of the Derg, the Marxist-Leninist military junta that ruled Ethiopia for seventeen years from 1974 until 1987 for the crimes they committed in this period. The trial, which began in 1995 and brought an entire regime before a national court, was the first of its kind in Africa. After a twelve-year trial, Mengistu and his co-accused were found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity in 2006, making this one of the longest genocide trials ever.

Read part 1 of the article, describing what happened in those years under Mengistu’s reign and the ultimate decision to prosecute Mengistu and other members of the Derg.

Part 2 analyses the trials of Mengistu and the senior Derg officials.

The Ethiopian Law on Genocide

Haile Mariam Mengistu ruled Ethiopia from 1977 until he was overthrown in 1991. PHOTO: Wikipedia Commons.

The now widely used word ‘genocide’ came into existence in 1944 when it was coined by Alfred Lemkin, a Polish lawyer, in his book Axis Rule in Occupied Europe. It combines a Greek word, genos (meaning ‘race’, ‘group’ or ‘tribe’), and a Latin ending, ‘cide’ (meaning ‘killing’). The crime was variously described, among others, as crime that has no name (Winston Churchill); the crimes of crimes; and crimes against humanity. The 1946 United Nations resolution is the first multilateral international instrument to use the word ‘genocide’. The Nuremberg Tribunal decisions did not mention the word.

The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 9 December 1948 and entered into force on 12 January 1976 after getting the 20 ratifications needed under its Article XIII. Ethiopia signed the Convention on 11 December 1948 and ratified it on 1 July 1949. There are currently 141 countries parties to the Convention. The Convention, in its Article 2, defines genocide as any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

  1. Killing members of the group;
  2. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
  3. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
  4. Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
  5. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.[1]

As a party to the Genocide Convention, Ethiopia, in its 1957 Penal Code, outlawed genocide in its expanded form, affording protection to ‘political groups’, a group not covered under the Genocide Convention.

Article 281 of the 1957 Penal Code provides the following:

Art. 281. Genocide; Crimes against Humanity

Whosoever, with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, religious or political group, organizes, orders or engages in, be it in time of war or in time of peace:

(a) killings, bodily harm or serious injury to the physical or mental health of members of the group, in any way whatsoever; or

(b) measures to prevent the propagation or continued survival of its members or their progeny; or

(c) the compulsory movement or dispersion of peoples or children, or their placing under living conditions calculated to result in their death or disappearance, is punishable with rigorous imprisonment from five years to life, or, in cases of exceptional gravity, with death.[2]

The expansion of the definition of genocide by the 1957 Ethiopia Penal Code was one of the contentious issues during the trial of former military officials accused of committing genocide against members of various political groups following the 1974 Ethiopian revolution, and more intensely during the Red Terror in 1976/80. The same substantive definition was retained in the revised 2004 Criminal Code of Ethiopia in its Article 269.[3]

To put the debates into perspective, it is important to briefly examine the drafting history of the Genocide Convention and subsequent developments to shed light on this controversy.[4]

The drafting history of the genocide Convention and the question of ‘political groups’

In Resolution 96(I) of 11 December 1946, the United Nations General Assembly described genocide as “a denial of the right of existence of entire human groups” and compared it to homicide, which “is the denial of the right to live of individual human beings.”[5] The resolution called on the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) to conduct necessary studies on the matter to draw up a draft convention. The General Assembly, in its Resolution 96(I), noted that “many instances of … crimes of genocide have occurred when racial, religious, political and other groups have been destroyed, entirely or in part.”[6] The mention of political groups in this Resolution formed the germ of the argument of the proponents for the inclusion of political groups for protection.

The Resolution affirmed, based on Nuremberg Principles, that genocide is a crime under international law, paving the way for the drafting of an international instrument that condemns the crime. By Resolution 180(II), adopted 21 November 1947, the Assembly reaffirmed its previous resolution. The ECOSOC was given the mandate to undertake the necessary studies to draw up a draft convention on the crime of genocide.

ECOSOC, at its sixth session, established an ad hoc committee composed of representatives of seven Member States to draw up a draft convention on genocide. The draft Convention was transmitted to the Sixth Committee of the General Assembly for further consideration and debate. The Sixth (legal) Committee considered this draft at its 63rd to 110th meetings and 128th to 134th meetings of the third session of the General Assembly in 1948. The General Assembly adopted the Genocide Convention by unanimous vote of the 56 participants at its 179th plenary meeting on 9 December 1948.[7]

At the drafting stage, many crucial issues had to be resolved: in particular, those relating to the definition of the crime of genocide under the draft Article II. These questions, among others, included whether the act of genocide should be explicitly enumerated in the article or a general definition of genocide be adopted; whether political groups should be included or excluded in the groups to be protected by the Convention; and whether, as acts of genocide, the Committee should retain the words “on the grounds of the national or racial origin, religious belief, or political opinion of its members.”[8]

The United Nations General Assembly resolution called for the drafting of a genocide convention intended to afford protection to political groups. The Ad Hoc Committee included political groups in a majority vote of 4 out 7.[9] ECOSOC, at its 75th session, also decided to retain political groups, the vote being 29 in favour to 13 against, with 9 abstentions.[10] The vote in favour demonstrates the support such inclusion had at the early stages of the drafting process. However, this decision was later reversed. Other suggestions were, of course, rejected as well, including cultural genocide, which was previously included under Article 3 of the draft convention; acts of genocide committed through the use of narcotics, which was supported by China; and economic genocide, which had the support of the United States.

The most spirited debate about the issue of whether to include political groups took place in the Sixth Committee, the primary forum for the consideration of legal questions in the General Assembly. All of the UN Member States are entitled to representation on the Sixth Committee as one of the main committees of the General Assembly.

The Sixth Committee first voted to include political groups among groups protected, only to reverse that decision for practical reasons rather than reasons of principle. When the Genocide Convention was being debated, Ethiopia was represented by Ato Zelleka Gashaou. His alternates were Ato Kifle Egzi Gabremaskal and John H. Spencer, a prominent legal advisor to the Imperial regime.

the derg
Mengistu Haile Mariam (left) with fellow Derg members. PHOTO: Wikipedia Commons.


The wide-ranging views expressed in the Sixth Committee are illuminating, although there is no mention of the stand taken by Ethiopian representatives other than the first-round vote in which Ethiopia abstained from voting for or against the inclusion of political groups. Nevertheless, the lists of representative reasons given by various delegations for exclusion were as follows:

  • Difficulty in having the Convention signed by countries if political groups are included (Venezuela);[11]
  • Political groups lacked the necessary homogeneity and stability (Brazil);[12]
  • Political groups had neither the stability nor the cohesion characteristic of ethnic or racial groups. An individual’s membership in a given political group was in fact largely a matter of his own free will. Many States would not accept such limitations to their right to suppress internal disturbances (Venezuela);[13]
  • Including political groups would represent a departure from the definition of genocide proper and raise the question of also protecting professional and economic groups (Sweden);[14]
  • The inclusion would bring the United Nations into the domestic political struggle of every country and would make it difficult for many countries to adhere to the Convention (Egypt);[15]
  • The inclusion of political groups would alarm those countries that covered political crime in their own national legislation (Peru);[16]
  • Political groups were entirely out of place in a scientific definition of genocide and their inclusion would weaken the Convention and hinder the fight against genocide (USSR);[17]
  • Including political groups would prevent some governments, which were rightly desirous of maintaining the freedom to suppress internal disturbances, from ratifying the Convention (Iran);[18]
  • That crime was unknown in the countries of Latin America, since in those countries there did not exist that deep-rooted hatred that in due course led to genocide (Brazil);[19]
  • The inclusion of political groups in the Convention might enable an international tribunal to intervene in the suppression of plots or insurrections against which countries had to defend themselves (Iran);[20]
  • Those who needed protection most were those who could not alter their status. For them the idea of equality was of the very greatest importance (Poland);[21] and
  • Resolution 96(I) mentioned political groups only as an example. It did not state that they should be protected by the Convention on Genocide. Delegations that had adopted the resolution had not, at that time, contemplated the protection of political groups by the Convention (Venezuela);[22]

Following are the reasons for inclusion:

  • The period in history when racial and national hatred had been the thing to be most greatly feared had been succeeded by a period in which political opinion had become the greatest cause of hatred (Lebanon);[23]
  • Political groups should be mentioned all the more since every racial, political, and religious group possessed certain political opinions and in many cases could not be dissociated from them. If they were to be protected effectively, they should also be protected as political groups (Lebanon);[24]
  • From the theoretical point of view, genocide meant the physical destruction of a group that was held together by a common origin or a common ideology. There was no valid reason for restricting the concept of genocide by excluding political groups (Bolivia);[25]
  • In resolution 96(I), the General Assembly included a specific mention of political groups among the victims of genocide and stated that the perpetration of genocide on political grounds was a punishable offence. Public opinion would not understand it if the United Nations no longer condemned in 1948 what it had condemned in 1946 (Ecuador);[26]
  • There were no theoretical or practical reasons for excluding political groups (Ecuador);[27]
  • In the past, passion and fanaticism, which were the basis for all acts of genocide committed against national, racial, or religious groups, were not to be found in the political struggle between rival parties. But the situation was no longer the same. Passions were more and more apparent in political struggles, and it could be said that political groups were in danger just as other groups were, and perhaps even in greater danger (Cuba);[28]
  • The historical argument of the USSR representative based on the documents of the Nurnberg trial was not sufficient either, for the Committee was not bound by those decisions and it had the right to look to the future when preparing the text of the draft convention on genocide (Cuba);[29] and
  • The etymology of the word ‘genocide’ could not determine its definitive meaning, for words evolved and changed in meaning even in legislative texts. Thus, there were no decisive reasons against including the political group in the Convention. It had been said that that would make the ratification of the Convention more difficult: that should not be the case, for Article II referred only to certain quite exceptional forms of attack on the existence of the political group (Salvador).[30]

When the issue of retention of political groups in the list of groups was put to a vote after the debate, Ethiopia abstained, along with Nicaragua, Pakistan, Peru, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Egypt, Greece, and Lebanon. The retention was objected to by 13 countries; 29 countries voted in favour of protecting political groups.[31]

However, this result did not close the debate. At the 128th meeting of the Committee, a proposal was made by the representatives of Egypt, Iran, and Uruguay to re-examine the question of excluding ‘political groups’ in Article II of the Convention. Having heard a statement by the representative of the United States of America in favour of such exclusion, the Committee decided by a two-thirds majority vote of 26 to 4, with 9 abstentions, to reconsider this question.

Following this, the Committee, by a second vote of 22 to 6, with 12 abstentions, decided to exclude political groups from groups protected by Article II. Ethiopia did not participate during this second round, which ultimately excluded political groups. The record of the Sixth Committee shows that no Ethiopian representative spoke on this or any other matter being discussed.

The reasons given for the reconsideration of the previous vote were mainly practical rather than theoretical. For instance, the Egyptian representative who introduced the motion argued that the lack of consensus on inclusion would be a serious obstacle to the ratification of the Convention.[32] The representative of the United States explained why the United States changed its mind “in conciliatory spirit” in favour of deletion because of the need to have the Convention ratified by the greatest possible number of states.[33] In a conciliatory speech, he hoped that once those ratifications were secured, it might be possible, should the occasion arise, to make certain improvements in the Convention and, in particular, to include political groups.[34] However, no such reconsideration took place, and the latest international instrument, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (1998), does not afford protection to political groups.

The compromise that went into the adoption of the Genocide Convention of 1948 explains why some countries eventually included in their national penal codes provisions that protect political groups from genocide. In addition to Ethiopia, the penal codes of at least the following countries protect political groups: Costa Rica (Article 127 of the Código Penal); Peru (Title XIV [Law # 26926], Article 129 of the Código Penal); Portugal (Article 239 of the Codigo Penal); Article 211–1 of the Code Pénal defines “a group determined by any arbitrary criteria,” which is far broader than that found in the Genocide Convention, thereby making room for the inclusion of political groups. This shows that there is nothing inherent in the Genocide Convention or customary international law that makes the protection of political groups impossible.

Derg members in court in Addis Ababa, 1994. PHOTO: Wikipedia Commons.

The Trial


The Trial of Mengistu Haile Mariam and his co-accused began on 13 December 1994 with a reading of 269 page-long charges filed by the Special Prosecutor two to three years after the arrest of most of the suspects. A few other low-profile cases were, however, completed earlier.[35] By the time the process was completed, the panel of judges who commenced the trials had long since been replaced by others, due to retirements and resignations.

Before the prosecution started presenting its case, the Court had to make important rulings on the various preliminary objections raised by the defence, as is procedurally required. Some of the objections related to the validity of the definition of genocide by the Ethiopian Penal Code; the defence that the acts were authorized by law; and immunity of the acts of state or the head of state.[36]

On 10 October 1995, the Court dispensed with preliminary objections in regards to the legality of the trial of the accused by a court established by the TGE and the accused’s request for a trial by an international tribunal rather than the Ethiopian Court.[37]

The Court ruled that Ethiopia has the legal right to try the accused and rejected the accused’s argument that the Derg exercised the power of the Head of State and hence was immune from prosecution.[38] The Court also had to rule on the apparent inconsistency between the definition of genocide by the Genocide Convention and Article 281 of the Ethiopian Penal Code.

The Ethiopian Special Prosecutor had an option of charging the suspects with crimes against humanity and could have gotten a conviction, as the alleged crimes fell more appropriately into that category. His chosen strategy of sticking to the charge of genocide might have somehow diluted the overall impact the trial might have had. The reason for this is that in a politically charged environment such as the one that existed then, any charge that appeared to be idiosyncratic and not in tune with international standards would succumb to the charge of victor’s justice.

After the preliminary objections were dispensed with, the prosecution started the long, drawn-out process of presenting its witnesses. According to one account, the SPO claimed that it had interviewed 5,000 witnesses.[39] This had undoubtedly contributed to the delay in concluding the trials within a reasonable time frame.

The prosecution did not seem to have difficulty in procuring incriminating evidence.[40] The Derg was prolific at keeping records relating to the criminal activity of its members. The documentary evidence alone runs to more than 300,000 documents.[41] The perpetrators had even taped torture sessions. Other physical evidence, such as exhumed bodies, was shown to the Court through the assistance of experts from the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team. According to this team, the trial was the first in which physical evidence from forensic anthropology and archaeology was adduced in a national court to prove crimes.

Federal High Court Judgment

On 12 December 2006, the Federal High Court, in a majority decision, handed down a judgment in the case of Mengistu Haile Mariam and 56 other co-accused.[42] Thirty-three of the accused were senior officials of the Derg and the rest were low-ranking members. The Court convicted 56 of the accused; of these, 25 were tried in absentia. One accused was acquitted. The majority found the accused guilty of at least one count of instigating genocide, committing genocide, illegal imprisonment, and abuse of power. The top tier accused were found guilty of all 211 counts of genocide. The Court held that the accused were not able to refute the compelling evidence produced against them by the prosecution

In his dissenting judgment, Justice Nuru Seid rejected the charge of genocide and found the accused guilty of the alternative charge of homicide and causing willful injury. The gist of the dissenting opinion is premised on the fact that the Derg, on the assumption of power, had sweepingly repealed laws that were inconsistent with future legislation to be passed by the regime. According to Justice Seid, the laws repealed included Article 281 of the 1957 Penal Code criminalizing genocide and crimes against humanity, as it stood in the way of its proclamations No. 110/1976 and 129/1976. These proclamations authorized actions to be taken against counter-revolutionary political groups and their members. The judge further held that, since political groups are not protected against genocide under customary international law, the Derg’s actions did not contravene any rule of customary international law, which could have prevailed over domestic legislations.

High Court Sentencing

The sentencing decision by the Federal High Court, also, was arrived at by a majority of two. On this occasion, the dissenting judge on conviction decision was part of the majority.[43] Although the maximum penalty for genocide was punishment by death, the majority imposed life sentences on the top 48 convicts. Two convicts received 25 years’ rigorous imprisonment, while five others got 23 years’ rigorous imprisonment. The Court also placed further restrictions on the convicts, to be applied upon their release. Those who were sentenced to life were barred from taking part in elections and may not be chosen for any public honour following their release. Those who were imprisoned for 23 and 25 years were also barred from exercising the same rights for five years upon their release. The dissenting judge held that the death penalty is the most appropriate punishment to be meted out to the top convicts, given the gravity of the crime.

Appeals and Cross Appeals to the Federal Supreme Court

Following the Federal High Court’s decision, both the defence and the prosecution appealed to the Federal Supreme Court. The appeal by the prosecution mainly concerned matters of sentencing, while some of the accused appealed both the conviction and the sentence meted out to them by the Federal High Court. The defence recalibrated the arguments it had made during the preliminary phase of the High Court hearing and the trial itself.


In their appeal to the Federal Supreme Court, the accused argued that they did not commit the crimes and that none of the prosecution’s witnesses had named them individually as having committed the alleged crimes; that their names were not found on the documentary evidence introduced by the SPO, and that most of the documentary evidence consisted of photocopies, and the law does not attach evidentiary value to them; the Federal High Court found them guilty not because there was specific evidence against particular individuals but merely because they were members of the Derg; they did not commit genocide and the definition of genocide under Article 281 of the 1957 Ethiopian Penal Code that included “political groups” is against international law and is thus not valid; that the prosecution had not proved the allegation that the Derg had a policy and plan in place to carry out genocide; and that the Provisional Military Administration Government (the Derg) was a lawfully established and recognized government whose actions as a government could not be considered a criminal act.[44]

For its part, the SPO contended that most of the grounds relied on by the Federal High Court to mitigate the sentence against the accused do not exist in the Penal Code and are not known as legal grounds for mitigating punishment; that the High Court has no power to excuse the accused and hence cannot change the death penalty to life in prison; that the accused were found guilty of serious concurrent offences and the maximum penalty of death should be imposed on them; that members of the Standing Committee of the Derg were found guilty on all counts under Articles 281, 286, and 522 of the 1957 Penal Code, which resulted in the death of thousands of people, and the Federal High Court did not consider this when sentencing them; that while the death penalty was imposed on some of the low-level officials of the Kebele (the lowest administrative unit), who merely carried out the orders, it would be improper to mete out lesser penalties to the main policy makers who gave orders; that the sentencing did not take into account various aggravating circumstances, in particular, earlier convictions and sentences meted out against some of the accused by other divisions of the Federal High Court for concurrent crimes of genocide; and that, in view of aggravating circumstances, the court should impose the maximum penalty of death.[45]

The Federal Supreme Court rejected most arguments of the appellants, finding, among others, that the Derg had a plan to eliminate its political adversaries and that the actions of the Derg could be attributed to its members. Thus, “when the Derg administered the country exercising governmental powers, the decisions it gave were agreed to have been given by all its members, which means that the members accepted the consequences of such decisions as one of [their own].”[46]

Commenting on whether genocide could be committed against political groups, the Federal Supreme Court noted that the Ethiopian Government should be applauded for its progressive thinking instead of being criticized for having legislated in its Art 281 of the Penal Code a provision that protected political groups against genocide, something which most countries were hesitant to accept at that time. The Ethiopian Penal Code enriches the Genocide Convention and does not contradict it.[47]

In response to the defence argument that the actions of a lawful government cannot be considered criminal, the Court held that “[the] Derg allowed people to be killed in violation of the country’s firmly established Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code and human rights conventions ratified by Ethiopia in terms of which it is impermissible to impose the death penalty or imprison individuals contrary to the law.”[48] According to the Court, even if victims of Derg crimes are said to have violated the law, their cases should have been dealt with under due process of the law.[49]

Concerning SPO’s appeal against life sentences imposed on 21 senior Derg members, the Federal Supreme Court agreed with the SPO that the death penalty should have been imposed. The Court held that the accused had “trampled upon long-existing laws and international human rights conventions ratified by Ethiopia while they were the leaders of the country and administrators of its people” and that “they ruthlessly massacred numerous citizens who needed justice from them and they carried on with these criminal acts as their regular job using sophisticated methods for the commission of the crimes which shows their dangerous criminal behaviour.”[50] These, the Court reasoned, are sufficient prerequisites for imposing a death penalty.[51]

Commutation of death sentences

The sad saga that commenced with the Derg’s rise to power in the wake of the 1974 revolution still reverberates in the political and social milieu of the country. For what it is worth, the Ethiopian legal system has attempted to deal with the crimes committed through legal processes, finding the perpetrators guilty of genocide. However, the Head of State has commuted the death penalty to that of a life sentence for the convicts in detention. The decision does not apply to those tried in absentia, including Mengistu Haile Mariam.

As a political decision, this commutation is bound to have its supporters and detractors. In the overall scheme of things, the merits of the trial, as well as the decision to commute the death penalty, must be examined considering the need for justice for the victims as well as the deterrence and preventive value of these processes.



The trial of members of Derg for crimes committed during the communist-military regime in Ethiopia represented an important step in ensuring accountability. While the trial could be said to have fallen short of several international standards, it is the first attempt in Ethiopia’s history to carry trials of this magnitude for massive human rights abuses. On the other hand, there has been no systematic study on whether the trial contributed to achieving truth, reconciliation, and redress for victims. The fact that no alternative transitional justice mechanisms apart from prosecution of few suspects, had lessened the impact of the accountability process in charting a more hopeful path for the country. While, the last three decades following the ouster of the military regime represented a relative progress, there have been notable lapses that constitute a systematic human rights abuse for which victims deserve relief.




List of sources.


[2] . Emphasis added.

[3] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Proclamation No 414/1994, 9 May 2005, and

[4] For a comprehensive coverage of the drafting history of the Genocide Convention see, Hirad Abtahi and Phillipa Webb, The Genocide Convention: Travaux Prèpatoires , Vol. 2 (Leiden, Boston: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2008).

[5] E/AC.25/3, 2 April 1948, ECOSOC, Ad Hoc Committee on Genocide, Relations between the Convention on Genocide on the One Hand and the formulation of the Nurnberg Principles and the Preparation of a Draft Code of Offences against Peace and Security on the Other.

[6] . Emphasis added.

[7] Resolution 260(III), 9 December 1948.

[8] United Nations General Assembly, “Genocide Draft Convention and Report of the Economic and Social Council,” Report of the Sixth Committee, A/760, 3 December 1948, para 10.

[9] Official Records of the Economic and Social Council, Third Year, Seventh Session, Supplement No. 6, p. 5.

[10] Ibid., para. 10.

[11] Venezuela, E/AC.25/SR.4, 15 April 1948, ECOSOC, Ad Hoc Committee on Genocide, Summary Record of the Third Meeting, Lake Success, New York.

[12] Brazil, Official Records of the Third Session of the General Assembly, Part I, Legal Questions, Sixth Committee, Summary of Records of Meetings, 21 September – 10 December 1948, A/C.6/SR.63, Sixty-third meeting, Palais de Chaillot, Paris, Thursday, 30 September 1948.

[13] Venezuela, Official Records of the Third Session of the General Assembly, Part I, Legal Questions, Sixth Committee, Summary of Records of Meetings. 21 September–10 December 1948, Sixty-fifth meeting, Palais de Chaillot, Paris, Saturday, 2 October 1948, A/C.6/SR.65].

[14] Sweden, Official Records of the Third Session of the General Assembly, Part I, Legal Questions, Sixth Committee, Summary of Records of Meetings, 21 September–10 December 1948- A/C.6/SR.69, Sixty-ninth meeting, Palais de Chaillot, Paris, 7 October 1948, A/C.6/SR.69 1357.

[15] Egypt, Ibid.

[16] Peru, Ibid.

[17] USSR, Ibid., A/C.6/SR.64, Sixty-fourth meeting, Palais de Chaillot, Paris, Friday, 1 October 1948.

[18] Iran, Ibid., A/C.6/SR.66, Sixty-sixth meeting, Palais de Chaillot, Paris, Monday, 4 October 1948.

[19] Brazil, Ibid., A/C.6/SR.69, Sixty-ninth meeting, Palais de Chaillot, Paris, Thursday, 7 October 1948.

[20] Iran, Ibid., A/C.6/SR.74, Seventy-fourth meeting, Palais de Chaillot, Paris, Thursday, 14 October 1948.

[21] Poland, Ibid., A/C.6/SR.75, Seventy-fifth meeting, Palais de Chaillot, Paris, Friday, 15 October 1948.

[22] Venezuela, Ibid.

[23] Lebanon, E/AC.25/SR.4, 15 April 1948, ECOSOC, Ad Hoc Committee on Genocide, Summary Record of the Third Meeting, Lake Success, New York, 15 April 1948.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Bolivia, Official Records of the Third Session of the General Assembly, Part I, Legal Questions, Sixth Committee, Summary of Records of Meetings, 21 September – 10 December 1948: A/C.6/SR.74, Seventy-fourth meeting, Palais de Chaillot, Paris, Thursday, 14 October 1948.

[26] Ecuador, Ibid.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Cuba, Ibid.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Salvador, Official Records of the Third Session of the General Assembly, Part I, Legal Questions, Sixth Committee, Summary of Records of Meetings, 21 September – 10 December 1948:A/C.6/SR.75, Seventy-fifth meeting, Palais de Chaillot, Paris, Friday, 15 October 1948A/C.6/SR.75 1411

[31] Countries that objected to the retention included: Poland, Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, Union of South Africa, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Uruguay, Venezuela, Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, Czechoslovakia, Dominican Republic, Iran. Countries that voted in favour of the retention were: Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Siam, Sweden, Syria, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States of America, Yemen, Australia, Bolivia, Burma, Canada, Chile, China, Cuba, Denmark, Ecuador, Salvador, France, Haiti, Iceland, India, Luxembourg.

[32] Egypt, Official Records of the Third Session of the General Assembly, Part I, Legal Questions, Sixth Committee, Summary of Records of Meetings, 21 September–10 December 1948: A/C.6/SR.128, Hundred and twenty-eighth meeting, Palais de Chaillot, Paris, Monday, 29 November 1948A/C.6/SR.128 1867.

[33] Official Records of the Third Session of the General Assembly, Part I, Legal Questions, Sixth Committee, Summary of Records of Meetings, 21 September–10 December 1948: A/C.6/SR.128, Hundred and twenty-eighth meeting, Palais de Chaillot, Paris, Monday, 29 November 1948.

[34] Ibid.

[35] The first case to be completed was that of Special Prosecutor v Dr Geremew Debele, File No. 952/89. The case was decided in July 1999.

[36] For the submissions of the SPO and the defense, see Kidane, note 19 above,  678–81.

[37] For the timeline, see Hanna Tsadik, Prosecuting the Past… Affecting the Future? 49; See also Julie V. Mayfield, “The Prosecution of War Crimes and Respect for Human Rights: Ethiopia’s Balancing Act,” Emory International Law Review, 9 (1995), 553–93 at 569.

[38] See Kidane, note 19 above, 681.

[39] Ibid, 671.

[40] Human Rights Watch/Africa, Ethiopia: Reckoning Under the Law,  note 2 above, 22–24.

[41] John Ryle, Letter from Ethiopia, “African Nuremberg,” The New Yorker, 2 October 1995, 50.

[42] Fourteen of the accused died before the completion of the trial.

[43] For analysis of the sentencing judgment, see Firew Kebede Tiba, “The Mengistu Hailemariam Genocide Trial in Ethiopia”, Journal of International Criminal Justice 5 (2007), 513–28.

[44] Special Prosecutor v Colonel Mengisu Hailemariam & Others, Criminal File No. 30181, Federal Supreme Court, 26 May 2008, 10–11. Judgment in Amharic, the working language of the federal government. All translations are the author’s and are not official.

[45] Special Prosecutor v Colonel Mengisu Hailemariam & Others, 7–9.

[46] Ibid.

[47] Ibid, 70.

[48] Ibid, 65–66.

[49] Ibid, 66.

[50] Ibid, 91–92.

[51] Ibid, 92.