The former president of Ethiopia’s Somali region who was arrested on suspicion of gross human rights violations as well as instigating ethnic and religious violence has asked Ethiopia’s new prime minister to pardon him.
Security forces arrested Abdi Mohamed Omer, widely known as Abdi Iley a day after the Ethiopian state stripped him of his immunity, along with six other officials following days of violence that left dozens of people dead in Ethiopia’s Somali region capital, Jigjiga last month.
Speaking at his third criminal case hearing in Addis Ababa on Wednesday, Mr. Omar who has been accused by rights abuses of having overseen years of human rights abuses and tortures against prisoners in the infamous Ogaden jail has appealed lawyers and judges to submit his pardon application to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
“Since Ethiopia has entered an era of forgiveness, I am asking his excellency, prime minister Abiy Ahmed to extend us his pardon powers.” Mr. Omar said during the trial.
In response, the court’s presiding judge who has complained over delays in the former leader’s trial and state prosecutor’s request for more time to compile an evidence for Mr. Omar’s case, instructing them to present their evidence in ten days period.
During his reign, human rights groups have documents hundreds of people were killed by state terrorism, including many who are still registered as disappeared.
According to the New York-based Human Rights Watch, the military in the Somali region of Ethiopia displaced thousands of people and destroyed their homes. Many were detained and tortured, and even executed. Those who suffered were perceived to be sympathetic to the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), an armed opposition group in the region.
The Somali regional state in Ethiopia has officially announced the closure of its main prison facility, located in the capital, Jijiga mid-September.
Last week, the Somali regional state in Ethiopia has officially announced the closure of its main prison facility in what’s seen as parts of attempts by the state to keep track with the new sweeping reforms introduced by prime minister Abiy Ahmed which saw Ethiopia restored relations with its neighboring arch-rival, Eritrea and also signed peace deals with rebel groups that has been fighting with the state for decades.