ATTORNEY GENERAL – Press Release on the Investigation into TPLF’s attack against the Northern Command of the National Defense Force and Related Grave Criminal Offences (February 4, 2021)

It is to be recalled that criminal investigation is underway for grave offences committed by the leadership of the TPLF as well as former national defense and police force members loyal to the TPLF. A Taskforce composed of the Ethiopian National Defense Force, the Office of the Federal Attorney General, the Federal Police and other relevant security institutions is conducting the investigation.

The investigation so far has established the commission of three major crimes: High Treason, Crimes against the Constitutional Order, and Terrorism.

349 suspects have been identified and a court order for their detention has been issued in accordance with the laws of the nation. From these suspects, 253 are retired and active members of the Ethiopian National Defense Force and Federal Police and 96 are key members and top leadership of the TPLF. So far, 680 documentary evidences and testimonies of witnesses have been collected and 124 suspects have been detained as per the courts’ order.

The investigation further uncovered that the November 3rd treasonous act committed by the rogue members of the Ethiopian National Defense Force against the Northern Command by the order of the TPLF leadership, was not an isolated and spontaneous attack. According to the evidences collected by the investigation team, TPLF had prepared a detailed plan to stage an armed insurrection, as a continuation and finale of the violence it has been financing and orchestrating to derail the reforms for the last three years. In order to achieve its goal, the TPLF leadership and its accomplices had first established an Operation Division composed of the Tigray Regional State Militia under the leadership of General Haile Selassie Girmay. It then changed its structure to Central Command of Tigray and made Lieutenant General Taddesse Werede its commander through an official letter issued by Dr. Debretsion G/Michael, the then Vice President of the Tigray Regional State. The entire structure of the Central Command of Tigray was organized in such a manner that it mimics the exact structure of the Ethiopian National Defense force.

Furthermore, investigations reveal that prior to the change of administration at the federal level in 2018, the Tigray Regional State had recruited close to 5000 militia members per annum while after the reform, it recruited 47,173 and 37,373 militia members respectively per annum in the year of 2018 and 2019 alone. These massive recruitments resulted in a situation where the TPLF was able to command an irregular militia force with more than 170,000 members.

Similarly, before 2018, the regional state engaged in recruitment of about 450 Special Force members per annum. After the change in administration that occurred in 2018, the TPLF dramatically scaled up its recruitment to 5000 per annum. The Special force, under the Central Command was organized in 8 Divisions and 23 Regiments.

These strategies and pre-meditated plans and actions clearly show that TPLF undertook a massive preparation to wage war against the Federal Government and other regional administrations with a view to regain its dominant position at the center which it had lost due to peaceful popular demands and reform initiatives.

Another key finding of the investigation is that TPLF was the mastermind for the communal conflicts and atrocities committed in various parts of the nation. TPLF had sponsored different communal conflicts and backed armed rebel groups to inflict atrocious attacks against innocent civilians. According to the evidences collected, several actors behind communal conflicts and armed attacks against innocent civilians around the nation had received training and financial backing of the TPLF to conduct the atrocious attacks. The TPLF leadership endorsed and provided tangible support to those orchestrating violent conflict in various parts of the country.

Concerning the Mai Kadra massacre, the investigation team has identified 279 suspects who were directly involved in the ethnically motivated massacre out of which only 36 had been detained. The rest are believed to have fled to Sudan claiming a refugee status. So far, 117 graves for victims of the massacre had been identified and have been uncovered and are undergoing forensic investigations.

The objectives of the Investigation are to hold accountable the perpetrators of the above-mentioned heinous crimes; to set the record straight on the atrocities committed by TPLF by documenting the truth for the benefit of future generation and the national reconciliation and healing efforts; and to recover embezzled public assets from the perpetrators and their affiliates.

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