Ethiopian police arrested a notorious army general on Friday on a warrant from the new government which wants him to face charges of war crimes committed in Ethiopia’s Somali state, police said.
Col. Gebregziabher Alemseged has been accused of having been involved in atrocities by the army in Ethiopia’s Somali state during the former regime’s reign.
Alemseged also faces separate charges including inciting the recent deadly uprising against the government in the Somali region’s capital Jigjiga following the arrest of the former regional leader Abdi Mohammed Omar in August that killed dozens of people.
According to Ethiopian officials, the infamous colonel had maintained a closer relationship with Omar who is currently facing war crime charges and appeared in court sessions several times in recent months.
During Omar’s reign, human rights groups have documents hundreds of people were killed by state terrorism, including many who are still registered as disappeared.
Col. Gebregziabher Alemseged had also led the Ethiopian army sent into Somalia to topple an Islamist administration in Mogadishu and rescue the Western-backed transitional government at the end of 2006.
He has since become a powerful figure in Somalia’s political circles despite subsequent complaints by Somali leaders who have accused him of meddling in the country’s internal affairs and that he maintained closer secret relationships with regional leaders locked in a bitter political challenge with the central government.
The complaints by Somali leaders have led to the sacking of Alemseged by Intergovernmental Authority on Development for which he was its political advisor and Addis Ababa’s point man under the former regime in Somalia in June.
The London-based Amnesty International accused Alemseged’s troops in Somalia of killing civilians and committing atrocities, including slitting people’s throats, gouging out eyes and gang-raping women in violence that rights groups said killed over 10,000 people across the country.
His arrest comes just days after the Ethiopian police discovered a mass grave containing at least 200 bodies along the border between the strife-torn Oromiya and Somali regions, as parts of investigations into crimes allegedly committed by the former Somali region’s leader.
According to officials, the recent discovery of the mass grave and follow-up investigations by police had allegedly incriminated Col. Alemseged, in a case that has reportedly prompted his arrest.
He is among dozens of senior army generals and mid-rank commanders arrested in connection with war crimes and corruption by Ethiopia’s new government under the reformist prime minister Abiy Ahmed in recent weeks.