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  • Ethiopian Man "convicted of killing 101 people" caught in Denver area

     Ethiopian Man "convicted of killing 101 people" caught in Denver area
    ARAPAHOE COUNTY - The 9Wants to Know investigators have learned U.S. Federal agents arrested a man who they believe is a war criminal from Ethiopia convicted of killing 101 people and torturing many others. 

    Kefelegn Alemu Worku went by the name Tufa or Habteab Berhe Temanu, according to federal agents and federal court documents reviewed by 9Wants to Know. Immigration Customs Enforcement arrested Worku was arrested Aug. 24, but news of his arrest wasn't immediately made public.
    ICE agents allege Worku stole an identity and forged his citizenship application to be able to get into the United States. Federal prosecutors charged him with unlawful procurement of citizenship or naturalization and aggravated identity theft. If convicted he could be sentenced to 10 years in prison. It's not clear whether he could be deported back to Ethiopia.
    Worku lived in a second-floor apartment at 8861 East Florida Avenue in Arapahoe County, near Florida Avenue and Parker Road.
    Girma Baye manages Kozy Café near Havana Street and 1st Avenue, where Worku was a near-daily customer.
    "He's about 60-65 years old," Baye said. "He's a very nice guy. He's always fun."
    Baye said he was shocked to learn what prosecutors claim is in Worku's past.
    ICE agents were tipped off about Worku in May of 2011 after an Ethiopian native who lived in Denver, recognized Worku as a guard in the prison where he was an inmate. The man also told federal agents that he personally watched Worku torture fellow prisoners.
    Prosecutors conducted an investigation and now believe Worku worked as a high ranking prison official in the "Higher 15" prison which house about 1,500 political prisoners during the reign of President Mengistu, often referred to the "Red Terror."
    "It was a period of systematized, institutionalized terror. It was not random, accidental or a little here or there, it was systematized institutionalized, government sponsored reign of terror," University of Denver Professor Peter Van Arsdale said.
    Van Arsdale, who wrote "Forced to Flee: Human Rights and Humans Wrongs in Refugee Homelands," has traveled multiple times to Ethiopia.
    As federal investigators looked into Worku's past, they reached other people who also said they recognized Worku from prisons.
    "These aren't huge prisons like Supermax or others here in Colorado. These are small buildings out in the courtryside with barbed wire," Van Arsdale told 9Wants to Know investigative reporter Jace Larson.
    Investigators say they discovered a news article which indicates a prison guard from Higher 15 named Kefelegn Alemu was sentenced to the death penalty in absentia for executing 101 people.
    9Wants to Know discovered a 2001 British Broadcast Corporation article which says the sentence was handed down by the Sixth Criminal Bench of the Federal High Court. It says Kefelegn Alemu was found guilty of ordering, coordinating and participating in the execution of 101 people.
    The article does not mention Worku's last name. Van Arsdale, the professor from University of Denver, says it is Ethiopian custom to refer to someone - even the president - by only the first name and not use the last name.
    Customs agents discovered Worku used a fraudulent name to immigrate to the United States on July 12, 2004 as a refugee along with four children to live with a fifth child already in the United States.
    When agents interviewed the unnamed, fifth child they say he admitted his real father wasn't mentally or physically able to immigrate to the United States. The children were worried their father's health would jeopardize their changes of immigrating to the United States so they recruited Worku to assume the identity of their father in the refugee process.
    Worku's public defender told 9Wants to Know Thursday that he is not in a position to comment on the case.
    Worku is scheduled to appear for a detention hearing in federal court in Denver Tuesday.
    Have a comment or tip for investigative reporter Jace Larson? Call him at 303-871-1432 or e-mail him

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  • Temesgen Desalegn to be Released from Jail

    The federal High court prosecutor has "stopped" the chargs against Feteh News paper Editor Temesgen Desalegn.

    Ethiopian Reporter

    የፌደራል ዓቃቤ ሕግ በመሠረተበት ሦስት ክሶች ምክንያት ነሐሴ 17 ቀን 2004 ዓ.ም. ዋስትና ተከልክሎ በማረሚያ ቤት እንዲቆይ የተደረገው የፍትሕ ጋዜጣ ዋና አዘጋጅ ተመስገን ደሳለኝ በዛሬው ዕለት ክሱ እንዲቋረጥ ተደረገ፡፡ ክሱ እንዲቋረጥ ያዘዘው ከሳሹ የፌደራል ዓቃቤ ሕግ ሲሆን፣ ለክሱ መቋረጥ በምክንያትነት ያቀረበው ተጨማሪ ምርመራ አደርጋለሁ በማለቱ መሆኑን ለማወቅ ተችሏል፡፡

    ዓቃቤ ሕግ በዛሬው ዕለት ለፌደራል ከፍተኛ ፍርድ ቤት 16ኛ የወንጀል ችሎት በጻፈው ደብዳቤ በጋዜጠኛ ተመስገን ላይ ያቀረባቸውን ክሶች ማቋረጡን አስታውቋል፡፡ በዚህ መሠረት ተመስገን በዛሬው ዕለት ከእስር እንደሚለቀቅ የተገኘው መረጃ ያመለክታል፡፡

    የፍትሕ ጋዜጣ ዋና አዘጋጅ ክስ የተመሠረተበት በ2003 እና በ2004 ዓ.ም. ራሱ በዘገባቸውና በጋዜጣው ዓምደኞች በተዘገቡ አመፅ ቀስቃሽ ናቸው በተባሉ ሦስት ጽሑፎች ሳቢያ መሆኑን መዘገባችን ይታወሳል፡፡

    ፍትሕ ጋዜጣ ሐምሌ 13 ቀን 2004 ዓ.ም. ከጠቅላይ ሚኒስር መለስ ዜናዊ ሕመም ጋር በተገናኘ ዘገባው ምክንያት ከታተመ በኋላ እንዳይሠራጭ በፍትሕ ሚኒስቴር መታገዱም ይታወሳል፡፡ ጋዜጣው ከዚያን ጊዜ ጀምሮ የብርሃንና ሰላም ማተሚያ ድርጅት አላትምም በማለቱ ምክንያት ሕትመቱ ተቋርጧል፡፡
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  • Suspect Abey Girma Identified in Slaying of Ethiopian Restaurant Owners

    Dallas police believe a man wanted on an arrest warrant in connection with the shooting deaths of a couple who owned an Ethiopian restaurant has fled the state.

    Police continue to look for Abey Belette Girma who is accused of capital murder.

    Yayehyirad “Yared” Lemma, 40, and Yenenesh “Yenni” Desta, 31, shot to death about midnight Wednesday in front of their Lower Greenville home. The couple was returning home from Desta, the Ethiopian restaurant they operated on Greenville Avenue near Forest Lane.

    According to an arrest warrant, Girma approached both of them on the front porch and shot them before running away.

    Abey Girma

    A co-worker of Girma’s told police that Girma told him he had killed the couple because they had “disrespected him.” He said Girma told him that he followed them from their restaurant to their home where he confronted Lemma on the front porch of his home.

    “Suspect Girma told witness … that the complainant continued to disrespect him so he shot him,” police records state. “Suspect Girma stated he next shot complainant Yenenesh because she had also disrespected him.”

    The co-worker told police that Girma showed him a pistol that he used to kill the couple.

    He also told police that Girma intimidated him into driving to Goodland, Kan., where he was able to escape and call the police.

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  • Crime - Owners of Desta Ethiopian Restaurant in Dallas found shot to death

      A man and woman were found shot to death early this morning on the front porch of their home in the M Streets.
    Yayehyirad Lemma, 40, and Yenenesh Desta, 31, were attacked just after midnight when they returned to their Marquita Avenue home from a 16-hour shift at Desta, an Ethiopian restaurant Lemma owns on Greenville Avenue near Forest Lane.
    The couple have an 18-month-old child, who was not hurt. It’s unclear whether the child was at home at the time of the shooting.
    Desta restaurant, on Upper Greenville near Forest Lane. (Travis Hudson/Staff)
    About midnight, police received multiple reports of shots fired in the Lower Greenvile area, just across the street from the San Francisco Rose. They arrived to find the man and woman dead.
    Dallas police are trying to determine a motive, as it remains unclear whether this was a robbery or something else.
    At least one investigator remained at the scene this morning, but Detective Michael Yeric said there’s not much to add, only that it all happened fast. A shooter (or shooters) simply walked up and started firing, then fled.
    Neighbor Bell Velis, 81, didn’t know the couple but has lived on that block of Marquita for 48 years, and this is the first bloodshed he can recall there. He said his wife heard two gunshots and he saw the police activity soon after.
    Jacob Hilton, who also lives nearby, said the neighborhood is typically quiet, but gets a lot of traffic.
    “I’ve never really seen anyone suspicious.” Read more »


    SJF: Your work encompasses spoken word and performance, and comedy. Do you think this fluency of style is important in contemporary poetry?

    BS: In Ethiopian tradition the spoken word has been much more respected than the written word. Till recently poets didn't bother to put their verses on a paper. They would improvise in the presence of language- conscious audience who could in some extent participate in the composition. I believe some elements of this tradition is worth preserving.

    SJF: You have often employed satire in your work to hold a mirror up to Ethiopian society. Do you think this is the responsibility of the poet, to be a voice of conscience?

    I think satire doesn't fit well into my works. I am fond of melancholic humor. One evening I encountered a shabbily dressed guy rummaging through a garbage can in one of the streets of Addis. I came closer and asked "what are you up to man?" "I am only looking for some leftover for supper'' said the man sadly. Touched, I took out my wallet and offered him ten birr to buy bread. The guy took the money and made his way to the nearby shop. Soon, he returned with a candle and a match and went back to the garbage can to look for some leftover. This is a kind of stuff I like to include in my work.

    SJF: You have even faced direct repression and violence for the content of some of your work. Has this affected your approach to writing and its consequences?

    BS: Last year I was physically attacked by some guys who accused me of blasphemy. Should I stop exploring religious themes in my works? I don't think this is the right conduct for me as a writer. Will this incident change my approach? I have to wait and see.

    In my country free speech has been attacked by tyrants and self- appointed guardians of tradition. Traditionally, poets wanted to make a living while still wanting to speak their mind. The compromise between silence and security has created a new form in poetry which is famously known as Wax and gold (the Ethiopian double entendre).Yes, what doesn't kill me makes me an innovator.

    SJF:In its sheer scope Poetry Parnassus offers a unique opportunity for you to interact with fellow poets from every corner of the globe. How do you think this collective experience will benefit those who attend, to be exposed to so many different traditions of poetry, to hear poetry in so many languages?

    BS: First, I would like to thank Poetry Parnassus for honoring me by inviting me to this historic festival. As a young a writer such an exposure is a source of encouragement. As a spiritual adventurer, meeting poets from different languages and cultures is like exploring the world in a week.

    SJF: Poetry Parnassus is one of the largest poetry events to ever take place, over one whole week with over two hundred poets in attendance. The nature of its design means, to a certain extent, you are a representative of your nation and its poetic culture. How do you feel about that idea?

    BS: We are a nation of runners. Now I should use this opportunity to show we have got also poets. 
    Listen to Bewketu's Interview on VOA

    About the interviewer:

    SJ Fowler (1983) is the author of four poetry collections. He has had poetry commissioned by the Tate Britain and the London Sinfonietta, and has featured in over 100 poetry publications. He is poetry editor of 3am magazine, Lyrikline and the Maintenant interview series. 

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  • "When I fell, I said, ‘Oh, wow, I'm not going to finish" Ethiopian Tiki Gelana winner of women's Gold Medal

    LONDON (AP) — Tiki Gelana felt the marathon slipping away when she tumbled on the rain-slickened street.

    Around the halfway point of the race, the Ethiopian was knocked down by another runner as she reached for her water bottle, a hard fall that bloodied her right elbow. Already aching, Gelana thought about pulling out. Instead, she found new motivation, and headed on down the road.

    Gelana recovered from the fall to win the Olympic marathon on Sunday in a race that began in a downpour, was briefly brightened by sunshine and ended in another drenching rain.

    She was soaked as she crossed the finish line, but she didn’t seem to mind, raising her hands high to celebrate after navigating the rainy course in 2 hours, 23 minutes, 7 seconds to hold off Priscah Jeptoo of Kenya by five seconds. Tatyana Petrova Arkhipova of Russia won the bronze in the typical London weather.

    ‘‘When I fell, I said, ‘Oh, wow, I'm not going to finish,'’’ Gelana said through an interpreter. ‘‘But I just concentrated on running. All of a sudden, I made it.’’

    Gelana said she loved running in the rain. ‘‘I have been doing that since I was a small child,’’ she said, a bandage on her elbow. ‘‘I enjoyed my run.’’

    There was a small group of runners in a bunched pack over the last three miles. But with the finish around the bend, Gelana made her move, grimacing as she surged to the front. With the rain picking up — going from a light drizzle to a deluge — she kept glancing over her shoulder to see if Jeptoo was gaining ground.

    She wasn't. No one could catch Gelana as she easily coasted across the line to win the biggest race of her life and Ethiopia’s second Olympic gold medal in the women’s event.

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  • Meles Zenawi in Addis ababa and working from home

    The Ethiopian weekly Addis Admas News Paper reports that PM Meles is in addis ababa and Working from his home.

    ከመኖሪያ ቤታቸው ሥራ ጀምረዋል ተብሏል

    ሊሰጡት ታቅዶ የነበረ መግለጫ ተሰርዟል

    ጠቅላይ ሚኒስትር መለስ ዜናዊ የሚገኙበት ቦታ እና የሕመማቸው ደረጃ በይፋ ባለመነገሩ ጉዳዩ ከቀን ወደ ቀን አነጋጋሪነቱ የቀጠለ ሲሆን፤ ጠ/ሚኒስትሩ ከመኖሪያ ቤታቸው ሆነው ከአራት ባለስልጣናት ጋር ብቻ በመነጋገር እየሰሩ ናቸው በማለት አንድ ከፍተኛ ባለስልጣን ጠቆሙ፡፡ እኚሁ ከፍተኛ ባለስልጣን፤ ጠ/ሚ መለስ በውጭ ሀገር ሕክምናቸውን ተከታትለው ከሳምንት በፊት አዲስ አበባ እንደገቡ ጠቅሰው፤ በሁለት ኢትዮጵያዊያን ዶክተሮች ክትትል እየተደረገላቸው ነው ብለዋል፡፡ ጠ/ሚኒስትሩ ከሕመማቸው በማገገም ላይ እንደሆኑና ቤተመንግስት በሚገኘው መኖሪያ ቤታቸው ከአራት ባለሥልጣናት ጋር ብቻ በመነጋገር፣ የሚቀርብላቸውን ሪፖርት እያዳመጡ ትዕዛዝ በመስጠት ላይ ናቸው ብለው እኚሁ ከፍተኛ ባለስልጣን፡፡

    አቶ መለስ ፊት ለፊት በሚታየው የአካላቸው ክፍል ላይ ምንም ዓይነት የቀዶ ሕክምና ምልክት እንደሌለ የተናገሩት እኚሁ ከፍተኛ ባለስልጣን፣ ህክምናውን ያደረጉላቸው ሐኪሞች ብዙ ከመነጋገር እና ከመሥራት እንዲቆጠቡ እንዲሁም በቂ እረፍት እንዲያደርጉ ጥብቅ ማሳሰቢያ እንደሰጧቸው አረጋግጠዋል።

    ጠ/ሚኒስትሩ ባለፈው ሣምንት በጽ/ቤታቸው አጠር ያለ መግለጫ እንዲሰጡ ታቅዶ እንደነበር እኚሁ ባለስልጣን የተናገሩ ሲሆን፤ ከጤናቸው ጋር በተያያዘ መግለጫው ሊሰረዝ እንደቻለ ምንጮች ግምታቸውን ተናግረዋል፡፡

    የጠቅላይ ሚኒስትሩን ሕመም በማስመልከት ከአሥራ አምስት ቀናት በፊት ጋዜጣዊ መግለጫ የሰጡት የመንግሥት ኮሙዩኒኬሽን ጉዳዮች ጽ/ቤት ሚኒስትር አቶ በረከት ስምዖን፤ ‹‹ጠቅላይ ሚኒስትሩ ወደ ሥራ የሚመለሱት መቼ ነው? በቀናት፣ በሣምንት ወይስ በወር ጊዜ ውስጥ?›› በሚል ተጠይቀው ‹‹በቀናት›› የሚል ምላሽ ሰጥተው የነበረ ሲሆን፤ ጠቅላይ ሚኒስትሩ ግን ከአቶ በረከት መግለጫ በኋላ ለዓይን ሣይታዩ ሁለት ሣምንት ተቆጥሯል፡፡

    በአጠቃላይ ከአደባባይ ከራቁ ደግሞ 45 ቀናት ተቆጥረዋል፡፡

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  • As Americans embrace Ethio­pian cuisine, its farmers grow more teff

    By Emily Wax, Updated: Sunday, July 29, 4:37 PM

    It’s almost midnight, but Zelalem Injera, an Ethio­pian bread factory housed in a cavelike Northeast Washington warehouse, is wide awake. As its 30-foot-long injera machine hums, Ethio­pian American businessman Kassahun Maru, 61, proudly explains that it cranks out 1,000 of the fermented Frisbee-shaped discs every hour for the region’s growing number of ethnic grocery stores, health food boutiques and Ethio­pian restaurants.
    Injera — the Ethio­pian staple food that doubles as cutlery — is made from teff, a tiny grain ubiquitous in the Horn of Africa and until recently almost unknown elsewhere. But the teff that Zelalem Injera uses is grown in America. The 25-pound sacks stacked along the wall read “Maskal Teff: An Ancient African Grain. Made in Idaho.” Once solely grown in the rugged Ethiopian highlands, teff is popping up in the windswept fields of the American heartland.
    Waves of immigrants come to this country seeking a taste of home, but in doing so they change our tastes, too. Increasingly, cuisine can be a sort of international connective tissue, with people who may never travel to, say, India, now able to choose from five brands of naan in the ethnic foods aisle at Wegmans. The demand for teff has created a ripple effect that reaches from Addis Ababa to Boise to D.C.

    When the first waves of Ethiopians began arriving in Washington after the 1974 Marxist coup, they had so few of the necessary supplies at hand that they made injera with Aunt Jemima pancake batter. “It tasted funny,” recalls Getachew Zewdie, 47, the owner of Dukem, one of U Street’s first Ethio­pian restaurants.

    “There was just so much demand for real injera,” Zewdie says, standing amid sizzling skillets and bubbling vats of pungent yellow lentils and strips of meat tibs drizzled in rosemary sprigs and garlic. While injera is imported every day on Ethio­pian Airlines, it’s not as popular as the freshly made kind. The region’s injera industry — it’s baked at more than 50 locations in and around Washington — earns about $12 million a year with an estimated 4,000 packs sold per day, Maru estimates. Today, Zewdie buys his injera from Maru, and Maru buys his teff from the Teff Company in Caldwell, Idaho.

    A growing market

    A combination of factors has spurred the growth of the U.S. teff market. One is scarcity: The Ethiopian government routinely bans its export to protect prices from rising inside the country during lean seasons. Another is a shift in American dietary habits. The rise in Ethio­pian immigrants and the concomitant rise in the popularity of Ethio­pian food have increased demand, as has the surge in vegetarianism (a two-ounce serving of teff has as much protein as an extra-large egg). Yet another is the increased awareness of gluten allergies; gluten-free teff is a welcome alternative to wheat.

    “It is a great crop,” says Don Miller, a plant breeder who works with teff at a seed research facility in West Salem, Wis. “And its uses are expanding all the time.”

    A native of Texas, Miller, 60, sports a mustache and wears an array of turquoise rings. He has a PhD in agronomy and studies the use of teff as forage for horses and other animals. He received USDA grants in 2009 to 2010 to promote the Afric­an grain. “Maybe the Ethiopians like the taste a little more than I do,” he concedes, “but, you know, I really like it as a gluten-free chocolate cake.”
    Teff — which looks like wispy green wheat — is also being grown in Nevada, California and Texas, Miller says ­. “It’s just a really exciting time for teff.”

    Homesick Ethiopians aren’t the only ones spurring the demand for teff. Ethio­pian food is becoming more mainstream despite its unfamiliar texture — a bit like baby food — and the injera itself, which is used to scoop it by hand. These days Ethio­pian cuisine can be found everywhere from U Street to Silver Spring to Alexandria­.­ “This was an inevitable consequence to more people catching on to the fact that Ethio­pian food is becoming the new Indian,” says Harry Kloman, author of “Mesob Across America: Ethiopian Food in the U.S.A.”
    Kloman, a lanky University of Pittsburgh journalism professor, reflects on the cuisine’s newfound popularity over an alfresco dinner at the Lalibela Ethio­pian restaurant in Logan Circle. “Now the world has discovered teff and injera — and it’s only a growing market.”

    Teff gets competitive

    Wayne Carlson, who operates the Teff Company in Idaho’s Snake River Valley, is considered the father of American teff. In the 1980s, he was living in Ethiopia working in a public health project on waterborne diseases.

    “When I left I realized that I really missed the food,” says Carlson, who runs the company with his wife Elisabeth. “And I sort of thought, the West always goes to Africa and tells them things they ought to do. Well, Ethiopians also know what they’re doing, and maybe one of their cultural treasures can be transferred to us.”

    He noticed that the geology and climate of Idaho were similar to those of Ethi­o­pia and, in 1984, he began importing and cultivating the seeds. He was alone for a while, but over the years he’s trained at least 50 other American farmers to grow teff, he says. “I thought it would be a natural fit, especially as the Ethio­pian community grew.”

    Demonstrating just how competitive the industry is, Carlson pleaded guilty last spring of harassing a rival teff grower, Tesfa Drar, an Ethio­pian American and general manager of Teff Farms in Minnesota. Carlson was sentenced to a year’s probation in what the local media termed the “teff tiff.” The Carlsons say the charges were false and intended to destroy their business. Ethiopian American business leaders such as Maru hold Carlson in high regard, and view the incident as proof that everyone wants in on teff.

    The science of injera

    The massive machine at Zelalem Injera in Washington was invented by Kassahun Maru’s cousin, Wudneh Admassu, chairman of the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering at the University of Idaho.

    In Ethi­o­pia, women make injera over a wood fire by pouring the batter in a circular motion on a concave clay griddle. Concerned about the depletion of natural resources and the health of women who inhale the smoke, Admassu began planning a machine that could make injera in a different way. (One day, he hopes, they will be used in his native country.)

    “I dabbled in a lab,” Admassu says. “My wife helped me since she knows many things that are not written. And after about three or four years I came up with this machine.”

    I t’s anything but simple: Making injera is a delicate undertaking that includes a week-long, temperature-controlled fermentation process followed by careful measuring of the mixture’s viscosity “to monitor the consistency of the batter,” he says. The machine then drops, spreads and bakes the mixture, creating the flat 15-inch discs.

    In August, Admassu will visit the Ethio­pian Heritage and Culture Camp in Harrisonburg, Va., to speak to adopted Ethiopian American children about his Willy Wonka-esque contraption. But they shouldn’t expect too much specificity, he says with a chuckle.

    “It’s a secret recipe for a growing business,” Admassu says.

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