NEWS

At least 38 inmates in Ethiopia charged with causing a deadly prison fire.

At least 38 inmates have been charged in an Ethiopian court with causing a fire that led to the death of dozens of fellow prisoners in September.

 

Authorities say more than 20 inmates died when fire broke out at the Kilinto prison, on the outskirts of the capital Addis Ababa, which at the time was holding hundreds of anti-government protesters and some prominent opposition figures.

 

Details of what exactly caused the fire at the prison in early September remain scarce and the charges against the prisoners contradict earlier accounts by the authorities.

 

At the time, the government said 23 inmates had died of suffocation.

 

The charge sheet says the dead prisoners were beaten before being burnt to death.

 

The 38 have further been charged with incitement and trying to recruit other prisoners to join banned groups, including the Somali Islamist militant group al-Shabab.

 

Opposition figures and rights groups have constantly disputed the account given by the authorities and say some of the dead bodies had bullet wounds.

 

The Ethiopian government declared a six-month state of emergency last month to deal with nearly a year of anti-government protests from two of the country’s biggest ethnic communities.

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Adeeko Ademola

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