Mass Trials and Modes of Criminal Responsibility for International Crimes: The Case of Ethiopia
19 Pages Posted: 28 Jul 2015
Date Written: July 24, 2015
Ethiopia responded to the legacy of mass atrocities committed during the early years (1974–1980) of the communist rule of Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam and his associates by instituting a project of mass prosecution. The process reached a climax on 26 May 2008 with the Federal Supreme Court decision in the case of Special Prosecutor v Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam & Others, which upheld the Special Prosecutor’s argument that the life sentence imposed by the Federal High Court was inadequate. The convictions included the crimes of genocide, aggravated homicide, torture, illegal imprisonment and abuse of power. The Court did not elucidate or advance an appropriate theory concerning the mode of criminal responsibility required, even though the main charges generally relied on the assumption that the accused participated in the alleged crimes as co-perpetrators. This chapter seeks to challenge the approach taken in the decisions of the Ethiopian federal courts in light of modes of criminal responsibility under international criminal law. Specifically, it will examine the objections raised by the accused about their convictions solely on account of them being members of the Derg. The chapter argues, among others, that courts failed to draw on international criminal law jurisprudence (such as the concept of joint criminal enterprise or alternative doctrines) in finding the defendants guilty.
Keywords: Criminal Law, International Criminal Law, International Law
JEL Classification: K14, K33, K39
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation