By Bileh Jelan @BilehJelan
Addis Abeba, May, 22/2021 – In an astonishing departure from a previous statement on atrocities in Axum where it denied the occurrence of civilians death, the Federal Attorney General (FAG) in a statement admitted the involvement of Eritrean troops in atrocities and the occurrence of civilian death.
The statement disclosed that an investigation team consisting of Federal Police and prosecutors from the FAG office investigated incidents that took place primarily place between 19 and 28 of November, 2020. The report disclosed that the investigation team indicated that destruction to properties and civilian installation, looting and death of civilians have occurred during said period.
The FAG disclosed in its statement that a total of 53 Ethiopian soldiers were on trials for rape and killing of civilians. The statement said that 28 soldiers have been apprehended and charged for their participation in the killing of civilians and an additional 25 soldiers were charged with “committing acts of sexual violence and rape.” The statement on the soldiers’ trials ended by disclosing that three soldiers have already been convicted and sentenced for rape, while one soldier has been convicted and sentenced for killing a civilian, without further giving any details on the nature of the trials, their dates and locations.
The statement also disclosed new details about the Axum incident in which it said, “A total of 110 civilians were killed on said dates by Eritrean troops.” It continued, “The killing of civilians happened in the context of a reprisal for an attack against a contingent of Eritrean troops carried out by a force compromising of the Militia of the Tigray regional state, the Tigray special police force and residents of the city who had been armed by the TPLF and took a two day training.” The report concluded by disclosing that 70 civilians were killed in the city while they were outdoors and according to the report, “Indications show that some were irregular combatants.” The report admitted the occurrence of 40 civilians who it said were killed in home to home raids and searches of houses by Eritrean troops. The report said that 119 testimonies have been collected, needed evidence has been secured and further investigations are to be conducted.
This statement runs in contradiction with an earlier statement by the FAG that suggested that the testimonies of 95 witnesses put the number of deaths at 93 and blamed the TPLF for the incident in the city. The statement said while talking about casualties,, “Although unarmed, investigations have found out that there were active participants of the war.” AS