ghebremichael at SPAMhotmail.com
Wed Dec 8 11:56:34 MST 1999
Today we found this. It is good to know who our friends are! There are
South African ANC-SACP supporters on list. Explain please.
Ethiopia's former leader Mengistu Haile Mariam has returned to his exiled
home in Zimbabwe - only days after the South African Government said it
would consider extraditing him.
Mr Mengistu left South Africa after receiving medical treatment. He faces
charges of crimes against humanity in Ethiopia, where the government has
been pursuing his formal extradition.
Speaking to the BBC, the former leader denied he had been forced to flee
South Africa where he had been treated for a peptic ulcer.
"This thing has been exaggerated a lot," he told the BBC's Network Africa
"In the first place, the present government of South Africa are my comrades
in arms, my friends, my colleagues."
The government has been criticised for failing to extradite him, even though
the two countries have no extradition treaty.
South African opposition party, the United Democratic Movement, said the
government had lost an excellent opportunity to prove its commitment to
South Africa's presidential spokesman Parks Mankahlana told The Star
newspaper that Mr Mengistu had already left the country when the government
received the extradition request.
"The request came on Friday evening but Mengistu had left that afternoon,"
said Mr Mankahlana.
"Mengistu came to South Africa as a private citizen. He came and he left."
Mr Mengistu travelled to South Africa three weeks ago on a Zimbabwean
diplomatic passport with a special visa.
He has lived in exile since fleeing Ethiopia in 1991 as rebel forces closed
in on the capital Addis Ababa.
The Ethiopian Government wants Mr Mengistu to face charges for the murder of
thousands of opponents of his military Marxist regime during its so-called
"Red Terror" campaign of 1977 and 1978.
Zimbabwe has also had extradition requests from the Ethiopian Government but
has refused to act because of the absence of a treaty.
Ethiopia has argued that Mr Mengistu's crimes are such that the absence of a
treaty is not a good enough reason to refuse extradition.
Ethiopian courts are already trying Mr Mengistu in his absense along with
hundreds of other government officials accused of directing the killings.
He faces the death penalty if found guilty.
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