Alleged Ethiopian torturer on trial in Denver

Oct. 8, 2013 at 12:41 AM
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DENVER, Oct. 8 (UPI) -- Jurors heard opening statements Monday in Denver in the trial of an Ethiopian who allegedly lied about mistreating prisoners when he entered the United States.

Kefelgn Alemu Worku, who is believed to be in his 60s, allegedly worked as a guard in the 1970s at a prison in Addis Ababa named the "Higher 15," The Denver Post reported. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brenda Taylor told the jury testimony from people who suffered there will show Worku lied when he told immigration officials he had never tortured anyone because of their race, religion or political beliefs.

Matthew Golla, the assistant federal defender representing Worku, said his client was not involved in the "wicked" things that happened in Ethiopia 40 years ago.

"The facts will show that this man had no part in that," Golla said. "I think the evidence will show their identifications are suspect."

A man who was imprisoned in the Higher 15 for 18 months, Kiflu Ketema, learned in 2012 that Worku was working as a parking lot attendant at a cafe in Aurora, Colo. Ketema reported Worku to the government after going to the cafe.

In 1974, Ethiopia's longtime ruler, Emperor Haile Selassie, was toppled and replaced by a one-party Communist state. The subsequent period became known as the "Red Terror."

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