Ex-Ethiopian spy boss charged in absentsia


The former head of Ethiopia’s intelligence service was charged in absentia with misuse of power and corruption, part of a crackdown by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government on senior security officials suspected of rights abuses.

Details of charges against Getachew Asefa, former head of the National Intelligence and Security Service, and 25 other defendants runs to 106 pages.

Getachew is accused of torture, causing death during interrogations and detaining members of opposition groups when they were labelled terrorist groups and banned under the previous government.

Four of those charged, including Getachew, are missing; the charge sheet says they are hiding in Tigray region. The remainder are in custody.

The men have not entered a plea.

After taking office a year ago, Abiy promised to clean up state-owned firms and the military. Dozens of previous government officials were arrested and charged with abuse of office and corruption.

Last month Ethiopian authorities arrested 59 officials on suspicion of corruption and economic sabotage and another 60 were arrested in November, including the former head of military-industrial conglomerate METEC.

Former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, from the Wolayta ethnic group, was forced to step down last year after three years of sporadic, deadly protests. Abiy is from the same ruling coalition, but from the larger Oromo ethnic group, at the forefront of protests.