Ethiopian war criminal convicted in US court

LOS ANGELES - An Ethiopian war criminal was convicted Friday of lying to US authorities to obtain an American passport and move to the US state of Colorado, prosecutors said.

Kefelegn Alemu Worku, who US authorities say was responsible for persecuting, torturing and murdering defenseless people during Ethiopia's "Red Terror" in the late 1970s, faces up to 22 years in jail.

During an "emotional" week-long jury trial victims whom he personally tortured gave evidence against him, said US Attorney for the District of Colorado John Walsh.

"Their testimony was chilling, as was the fact that the defendant at trial sat with his back turned to them as they testified, until ordered by the court to turn around so that his victims could identify him," Walsh's office said. Alemu Worku, who lived in the United States under an alias, was convicted of identity theft and lying to gain entry to the country, ultimately becoming a naturalized citizen. Judge John L. Kane stripped Alemu Worku of his US citizenship with immediate effect.

"Although no order of a US court can undo the crimes perpetrated by the defendant in Ethiopia, this trial offered Alemu Worku's victims the opportunity to speak the truth bravely, for all to hear and to see that a measure of justice would be done, at long last," said Walsh.

Thanking various federal law enforcement agencies, he added: "In the end, their efforts and the courage of the victims who testified have ensured that Alemu Worku is no longer able to hide 'in plain sight.'" Alemu Worku will be sentenced on December 19.