Interview
  • Alleged crimes under international law in Ethiopia investigated in Sweden


Swedish prosecutors have opened an investigation into crimes under international law for crimes that occurred in Ethiopia. A man who now lives in Sweden has been reported to the police as involved and responsible Ethiopian police and military forces opened fire on demonstrators in Addis Ababa in 2005.


Hennok Asschalew is one of the Ethiopians in Sweden who filed the police report.


- They shoot at us and they shoot me here, and the shot came out here, he says, pointing towards the hip. Since I do not know what happened, he says.


Hannok tells how police and soldiers fired at him and the other protesters, and how he was hit by a bullet just below the hip. Where the ball went into the posterior thigh, visible now a large cavity and the bone has become shorter. Hip bone was wrong and he could no longer run or jump, and he has constantly hurt.

- My leg is now shorter. They are of different length now, my legs, he says.


Along with relatives and survivors, he filed a police report 13 politicians and senior managers of the Ethiopian government, murder and torture. The crimes must have occurred during the turbulent days of 2005 when the opposition accused the government of electoral fraud.


Large demonstrations broke out and thousands of dissidents imprisoned. And a police report in Ethiopia would not be possible, says Hannok.


- There are many who are imprisoned. If you require its right, then you end up in jail.


Swedish police and prosecutors are very secretive, but confirms to echo that an investigation of violations of international law initiated against one of the 13 reported to the police. It is possible when the person is in Sweden, and since the crimes considered so serious that they can provide at least four years in prison.


The events were never any legal consequences but an independent investigation of judges found that almost 200 people shot dead and nearly 800 people taken to hospital. But the investigation was never acknowledged, and the judges who led it, have left the country.

It allows Stellan Garde, who is the legal representative for the group of Ethiopians who signed the police report, believes that there is a good possibility that the case actually lead to prosecution.


- There are many Ethiopians who live here in Sweden since these crimes were committed and their only chance to get justice is of course by appealing to the Swedish police. There is nowhere else to turn to, he says.

Maria Jansson

maria.jansson@sverigesradio.se

Interview

Ethiopian Center, Sweden 2014