Ethiopian immigrant admits being guard accused of killing prisoners

July 11, 2013 at 2:52 PM
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DENVER, July 11 (UPI) -- An Ethiopian immigrant jailed in Denver admitted in a letter he is the man prosecutors believe tortured and killed prisoners in his home country in the 1970s.

Known as John Doe, the man living in the Denver area under the name Habteab Berhe Temanu has been behind bars for nearly 11 months on charges he lied on immigration documents, The Denver Post reported Thursday.

In handwritten letters to Senior U.S. District Judge John Kane, Temanu admitted he is Kefelegne Alemu Worku and said of the misinformation on the documents, "I apologize for my errors I simpley (sic) wanted to live in America." He added he intends to plead guilty at a hearing Thursday instead of awaiting a trial scheduled for Aug. 12.

Prosecutors believe Worku participated in Ethiopia's Red Terror, a purge of those suspected of opposing the Marxist government that seized power in the African nation in the 1970s.

Some estimates indicate the purge involved the arrest, imprisonment, torture and death of hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians, the newspaper said.

Prosecutors are not sure of Worku's age, but he refers to himself as "an old man" in a letter to Kane.

A 2001 report by the British Broadcasting Corporation, citing Ethiopian media, said a former prison guard, Kefelegn Alemu, was convicted in absentia of participating in the deaths of 101 people, and was ordered hanged if ever found.

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