THE HAGUE (AFP)―In a rare move, Dutch prosecutors on Wednesday called for a Dutch-Ethiopian national to be jailed for life for “an atrocious campaign” of war crimes during Ethiopia’s “Red Terror” in the 1970s.

“The gravity of the crimes and the interest of the victims and their relatives, call for a life sentence,” the prosecution told the trial in The Hague.

Imposing such a sentence on the suspect, Eshetu Alemu, 63, would “also make clear to the international community how serious the alleged conduct of the suspect is”.

Eshetu was “responsible for an atrocious campaign” of war crimes “that include arbitrary detention, torture and killing of opponents of the 1970s revolutionary regime in Ethiopia”.

It “was intended to eradicate all opposition” to the then ruling Marxist-Leninist junta known as the Derg, the Dutch prosecutors added in a statement.

“The nature and scale of the violence are hard to grasp,” they said, identifying Eshetu as a representative for the military regime of former Marxist dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam in northwestern Gojjam province.

“The case consists of a series of horrors that were purposely inflicted on people. The accused acted as master over life and death,” the prosecutors added.

‘Gravity of offenses’ 

Eshetu has denied four charges of war crimes contained in a 100-page indictment, which includes the names of 321 victims – many of them high-school students.

Among them were 75 people killed in one night in a church in August 1978 whose bodies were then dumped in a mass grave.

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