On Monday January 15, Attorney General Getachew Ambaye announced the government would pardon 528 individuals currently in prison, and two days later it began releasing them. This included Dr. Merrara Gudina and Dr. Rufael Dissa.
A couple of weeks ago the leaders of EPRDF stated that political leaders and other activists would be released for political reconciliation.
The Attorney General stated that those convicted would be pardoned and those who were still undergoing trail would have their cases dismissed. He said that convicted individuals would be pardoned as opposed to receiving amnesty.
He said there were not political prisoners in the country.
At the press conference Getachew said that those released had passed pre conditions set by the government.
This included four pre conditions and criteria used to determine who would be pardoned or have their cases thrown out.
People had to not have caused casualties, not destroyed economic sites, or plotted against the constitution, in order to be pardoned, according to the Attorney General.
On the federal level 115 suspects, whose cases were ongoning trial, had them terminated.
It is reported that Merera Gudina (Prof), a prominent opposition figure and Chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress who was arrested over two years ago is one of those who had their case thrown out.
In SNNP 413 people had their cases terminated
The suspects were arrested because of violence at Gedio and Segen Zones in SNNP. Their cases were undergoing trial.
The other regions have not yet come up with lists of people to be released, according to the Attorney General.
He said that the process will take two years.
He said that pardons and case terminations do not mean the law will not be enforced. “We want to give notice to those who think like that,” he said.
The current action is a direction that is given by the government, while the usual pardon is directly related with correctional facilities, according to Getachew.
Amnesty will be given for those who hide from law and left the country. “We will consider the details of individual cases,” he said.
He argued that there are not political prisoners in the country, but several oppositions, activists and international organizations claim there are.