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News: Tigray region begins releasing prisoners arrested during war

Hadush Tesfa, Justice Bureau head of the Tigray region interim administration (Photo: DW)

Addis Abeba – Justice Bureau of the Tigray region interim administration has begun releasing prisoners who were arrested during the two years war with the federal government as of yesterday Monday, April 17.

Hadush Tesfa, head of the bureau, told Addis Standard that the prisoners who are being released were arrested amidst the war accused of violating about 30 different prohibitions declared in the region as an emergency. 

Most of the prisoners were rank and file members of the provisional regional administration installed by the federal government after its forces had controlled the capital Mekelle in late November 2020. Others were accused of collaborating with the provisional government.

The decision to release the detainees was made in accordance with the peace deal signed with the federal government, Hadush said, noting that it also aims to give opportunities to those citizens in prison to participate in the reconstruction of the war-torn region.

According to the official, the release includes prisoners whose cases are still under investigation, those whose cases have already been investigated and facing charges by the prosecutor and those who have already been sentenced for their deeds.    

Hadush said, prisoners who stand accused of crimes related to murder, sexual violence, serious injuries and damage to properties will not be released. He added that “the release does not include those who are accused of cooperating with the Eritrean government and any with foreign nationality”.

Hadush noted that the accurate total number of departing prisoners will be disclosed soon after full data is collected from woreda administrators. Opposition groups in the region estimate the number of such prisoners to be over 10,000.

On 30 March, the federal government released Tigray former officials following the decision by the Ministry of Justice to terminate criminal charges against former top civilian and military leaders who were members of the TPLF. AS

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