- Ethiopia's Supreme Court has overturned the High Court judgment and sentenced the country's toppled leader, Mengistu Halie Mariam, to death in absentia.
The former dictator, whose regime was found guilty of genocide in 2006, has been living in exile in Zimbabwe since he was overthrown in 1991.
Last year, Mengistu and 18 of his senior aides were sentenced to life in prison, much to the consternation of victims' families who quickly filed an appeal.
Judge Desta Gebru judge said going by their crimes, which included torture and execution of thousands of innocent people, the defendants deserved the death sentence.
During his 17-year Red Terror rule, thousands of Ethiopians were executed by the Mengistu regime. He ascended to power after he had overthrown Emperor Halie Selassie in 1974.
While 16 convicted aides are being kept in Ethiopian jails, two others were still seeking refugee in the Italian embassy compound in the capital Addis Ababa.
Under Ethiopian law, only the President deserves the right to give amnesty to people convicted of death sentence.
But it is most unlikely that this will be in the case of Mr Mariam, taking into cognizance the cruel execution and torture of suspected opponents and intellectuals by his government. Many of the executed bodies were either dumped in mass graves allowed to decay on the streets.
Zimbabwean government had refused earlier request to extradite Mengistu, but however warned him to stay out of politics.
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