By Elijah Meseret
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – Ethiopia has arrested 63 intelligence officers, military personnel and businessmen on charges of crime and corruption, announced the country's lawyer on Monday.
The sweeping high-profile arrests made in recent days are the result of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's order of a month-long investigation of misconduct under the former government.
Attorney General Berhanu Tsegaye told the media that some of the arrested suspects were abused by prisoners including "ill-treatment, coercion, sodomy, rape, electrocution and even death".
Some of the arrested accused of assaulting a state-owned military company, Metal and Engineering Corporation, plundered in a multi billion dollar corruption system, he said.
Berhanu also said that Ethiopia's former spy chief was suspected of involvement in an attempt to assassinate the new prime minister at a meeting on June 23. While other officials involved in the plot have fled the country, the former intelligence service in northern Ethiopia is located and should turn to authorities, he said.
Yilikal Getnet, an opposition figure, told The Associated Press that the public had demanded the arrests of the former officials.
"There have been problems that we have long called for in the opposition," he said, adding that Ethiopia needs a remediation and reconciliation process to investigate past injuries. "The only government party can not do justice for all these cruelties committed in the past."
Under the former government, Ethiopia, a close security federation in the West, was accused of violating rights of human rights activists. Since Abiy, 42, came to power in April, his new government has released several thousand political prisoners, allowing condemned opposition groups to return home, dropped terrorist acts against prominent opposition politicians and allowed the media to function more freely.
Despite the reforms, ethnic-based conflicts continue in some parts of Ethiopia and constitute the most serious threat to Abi's leadership for this East African nation with 100 million people.
Amnesty International welcomed the arrests.
"These arrests are an important first step toward ensuring complete accountability for the abuse that has dogged the country for decades," said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International's director of East Africa. "Many of these officials were on the board of authorities who were notorious to commit gross human rights violations, such as torture and arbitrary detention of people, including in secret premises. We urge the Prime Minister's Government to take further measures to ensure justice and accountability for all previous violations and abuse of human rights while ensuring that all insured persons receive fair trial. "
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