5 January 2018

Ethiopia: Autopsy of Ayele Beyene Says He Died of 'Natural Cause' - Contradicts Co-Defendants Who Say He Died of 'Torture, Neglect in Prison'

The autopsy of Ayele Beyene, 29, who died in the last week of July 2017 while he was imprisoned at Qilinto prison, a maximum prison facility on the southern outskirt of Addis Abeba, has declared the cause of his death as "natural."

Under the "Opinion as to the cause of death" page 3 of the 4 pages autopsy says "Uremia consequent to chronic renal pathology (Natural death). The autopsy contradicts a statement of concern by seven of his co-defendants given to the federal high court 4th criminal bench during their appearance in the court on July 25, after Ayele's death.

Yimam Mohammed, the fourth defendant who was charged with Ayele under Ethiopia's infamous anti-terrorim law, told the judges that Ayele hadn't had food for ten days prior to his death, during which the rest of his co-defendants have reported his situation to the prison authorities at least "three times a day" but they were "neglected". "I find it hard to say that our friend [Ayele] has died; his life was cut short. Who is responsible for that? If it is the government let us know it before we too die," Yimam told the court at the time. Other defendants have also told the court that Ayele was suffering from chronic ear pain sustained "due to torture."

However, the summary of the autopsy, which is conducted by St. Paul Hospital and Millennium Medical College, mentions a "chronic discharging sinus on the neck with a foul smelling discharge and discoloration of the skin."

Before his arrest, Ayele was the head of the management department at Nifas Silk Lafto Kifle Ketema Woreda 10 bureau here in the capital Addis Abeba. He was from Gidami, east Wallaga zone of western Ethiopia, where he is laid to rest.

Prior to his death, all the eight defendants have told the during their first appearance in May that they have been subjected to severe torture that included beatings and solitary confinement in dark rooms during their nine months of detention in Ethiopia's notorious prison Ma'ekelawi. They were all held in Ma'ekelawi without trial for nine months. (On Wednesday this week, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said his government will turn Ma'ekelawi into a "modern museum".)

On May 10, 2017, the eight men were formally charged (charge sheet in pdf) with terror related and criminal offenses. Ayele Beyene was listed as the second defendant in the file name under the first defendant Melkamu Kinfu. Ayele was facing similar charges of terrorism and criminal offenses along with six of the eight men: Bonsa Beyene (his bother), Yimam Mohammed, Lemesa Gizachew, Kumera Tilahun, Meyad Ayana, and Muluna Darge. All the seven were charged under Art. 7/1 of Ethiopia's infamous Anti-Terrorism Proclamation (ATP 652/2009) as well as Art. 32/1 A and B and Art. 38 of the 2004 Criminal code, while the first defendant Malkamu Kinfu was charged under Art. 4 of the ATP and Art. 32/1 A and B and Art. 38 of the 2004 Criminal code. AS

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