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Tuesday, 14 March, 2000, 16:38 GMT
Ex-Ethiopian PM jailed for 18 years
Tamirat Layne:
Tamirat Layne: Instrumental in overthrowing former dictator Mengistu
Former prime minister Tamirat Layne has been jailed for 18 years by Ethiopia's Federal Supreme Court.

Mr Tamirat, who served as prime minister for four years from 1991 and then as deputy prime minister until he was sacked in 1997, was convicted of corruption, embezzlement and abuse of office.

He was found guilty earlier this month of illegally exporting textiles and coffee, and fraudulently winning a construction contract when cheaper bids had been tendered.

Money in Geneva

Along with other former government officials, Mr Tamirat was initially charged with embezzling millions of dollars of public money and depositing it in a Geneva bank account.

In 1998 the authorities in Switzerland announced the return of $8m to the Ethiopian Government deposited by Mr Tamirat.

After he was detained in 1997, he complained about his imprisonment saying he had been beaten by police and denied medical treatment.

Mr Tamirat maintained he was a prisoner of conscience and alleged he was forced to make untrue statements, denied access to his family and made to live in unhygienic conditions with no access to reading materials.

Mr Tamirat was a key player in the movement to overthrow the military regime of Colonel Haile Mariam Mengistu.

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