“I would apologize on my knees to all these victims and through them to all of the people of Ethiopia,” Eshetu Alemu told to the Dutch Court, in the Hague District .

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AFP)―A Dutch-Ethiopian accused of war crimes committed during Ethiopia’s bloody purges in the late 1970s told a Dutch court Thursday that he apologized for atrocities by the regime but had no personal involvement in them.

“I would apologize on my knees to all these victims and through them to all of the people of Ethiopia,” Eshetu Alemu told The Hague District Court.

“But I do not recognize the role that has been assigned to me personally,” Alemu said after listening to testimony from victims who told of torture, murder and bodies dumped in a mass grave.

Eshetu, a long-time Dutch resident, is alleged to have been a henchman for former Marxist dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam in northwestern Gojjam province during the time known as the “Red Terror“.

A total of 321 victims have been named in four war crimes charges.

They include the “arbitrary detention and cruel and inhuman treatment of civilians and fighters who had laid down their arms,” prosecutors said as the trial opened on Monday in a rare case before a Dutch court.

Earlier Thursday, one of Eshetu’s alleged victims testified how, as a 16-year-old prisoner, he saw a mass grave being dug inside a prison at the city of Debre Markos in Gojjam.

Eshetu at the time “became the supreme leader” of the province as he was a founding member of Mengistu’s Marxist-Leninist junta called the Derg, said Worku Damena Yifru.

Worku told how prisoners had their hands tied behind their backs and were taken outside to a church on the prison grounds on August 15 1978.

He was later told that Eshetu looked on as his soldiers strangled some 80 prisoners, before dumping their bodies in the mass grave.

Continue reading this story at Expatica Netherlands
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