An Ethiopian High Court has charged 38 inmates for a prison inferno that led to the death of some over 20 prisoners at the Kilinto prisons located on the outskirts of the capital, Addis Ababa.
According to the charges filed by the prosecution, the accused persons cruelly assaulted their colleagues before setting the fire that burnt them and destroyed property.
They were also charged with trying to incite violence by exchanging information and recruiting members for the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and other groups, including Al Shabaab – the Somali insurgents.
Ethiopia’s human rights record has come under scrutiny in the wake of anti-government protests that has led to the deaths of hundreds and the detention of thousands. A rights group, the Ethiopia Human Rights Project has contested the number of deaths putting it at over 60.
The fire and subsequent deaths at the Kilinto prisons in September, according to official records, led to the death of the 23 inmates. Government at the time said 21 inmates died as a result of a stampede and suffocation. The remaining two were killed while trying to escape from the fire.
Two buildings were damaged by the fire. Materials including mattresses, blankets as well as recreational and other facilities used by the inmates were also damaged. The monetary value of damage was estimated at over $440,000 (10 million birr).
Beside the inmates, the government disclosed that some other injured inmates and police officers were sent to the hospital after the incident.
Photo Credit: FANA Broadcasting Corporate