By Elias Meseret
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – Ethiopia has arrested 63 intelligence officials, military personnel and businesspeople on allegations of violations and corruption, the country's attorney general announced Monday.
The sweeping high-profile arrests have been carried out in recent days, and a result of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's order for a month-long investigation into misdoings under the previous government.
Attorney General Berhanu Tsegaye told the media that some of those arrested are suspected of abuses of prisoners including "beatings, forced confessions, sodomy, rape, electrocution and even killings."
It is a misconstruction that a state-owned military corporation, the Metal and Engineering Corporation, has been looted in a multi-billion dollar corruption scheme, he said.
Berhanu also said that Ethiopia's former spy chief is suspected of involvement in an attempt to assassinate the new prime minster at a rally on June 23. While other officials implicated in the plot to fled the country, the former intelligence chief is now residing in northern Ethiopia and should turn himself to authorities, he said.
Gil Getnet, an opposition figure, told The Associated Press that the public had demanded the arrests of the former officials.
"These are the issues that we have been facing in the past," he said, adding that Ethiopia needs a truth and reconciliation process to investigate past misdoings. "The ruling party alone can not bring justice for all these atrocities committed in the past."
Under the previous government, Ethiopia, a close security ally of the West, used to be accused of rights violations by human rights activists. Since Abiy, 42, came to power in April, his new government has released several thousand political prisoners, leaving the opposition groups to return home.
Despite the reforms, ethnic-based clashes are continuing in some parts of Ethiopia and pose the most serious threat to Abi's leadership of the East African nation of 100 million people.
Amnesty International welcomed the arrests.
"These arrests are an important first step towards ensuring full accountability for the abuses that the country has for decades," said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International's East Africa Director. "Many of these officials were at the helm of government agencies, such as infamous for perpetrating gross human rights violations, such as torture and the arbitrary detention of people in secret facilities. We urge the government of Prime Minister Abiy to take further steps to ensure justice and accountability for all human rights violations and abuses, while at the same time ensuring all the individuals arrested receive fair trials. "
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