On Monday 30 October, the criminal case against Eshetu A., who is suspected of war crimes, commenced before the district court of The Hague. The case focusses on crimes that were committed during the so-called ‘Red Terror’ (1977-1978), a bloody period during the reign of the Derg-regime in Ethiopia (1974-1987). The defendant is being prosecuted for war crimes in the Netherlandson the basis of the Dutch War Crimes Act (Wet Oorlogstrafrecht). He is suspected to have operated as a regional representative of the Derg regime in the province of Gojjam and as such, is held to have ordered the execution of 75 young men who were members of the opposition. The victims were brought to a church and strangled, after which their bodies were dumped in a mass grave. The defendant is also suspected of committing torture, arbitrary detention and inhumane treatment of prisoners in detention camps in Debre Marcos and Meketel.

Lawyers Göran Sluiter and Barbara van Straaten are representing six injured parties (benadeelde partijen) in this case. They have filed a claim for damages on behalf of their clients, which the court will address this Thursday 2 November. On that same day, some of the victims will also use their right to address the court and inform the judges the crimes to which they fell prey.

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