Dec. 12, 2006. 10:51 AM
LES NEUHAUS ASSOCIATED PRESS
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia - Former dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam was convicted Tuesday of genocide and other charges in a rare case of an African strongman being held to account by his own country.
Mengistu, who lives in exile in Zimbabwe, was tried in absentia. He could face the death penalty at his Dec. 28 sentencing, but Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe said he won't deport Mengistu if he refrains from political activity.
The trial focused on Mengistu's alleged involvement in the killing of nearly 2,000 people during a 1977-78 campaign known as the Red Terror. A panel of judges in the packed courtroom convicted the former dictator of instigating genocide, committing genocide, illegal imprisonment and abuse of power.
Mengistu had taken power in 1974, when his military junta ended Emperor Haile Selassie's rule in a bloody coup.