The former president of Ethiopia’s Somali region broke his prison cell’s windowpane and attempted to strangle a prison guard to escape before was captured, Ethiopian police said Friday.
Abdi Mohamud Omar, who was arrested on suspicion of gross human rights violations as well as instigating ethnic and religious violence, was charged with an attempted escape from the detention center located inside a police station in Addis Ababa before he tried to jump through a gaping window hole.
However, Mr. Omar has denied the charges which he termed as ‘smear campaign’ aimed at paving way for torture by police, prompting the court’s presiding judge to order a 10-day investigation into the new charges leveled against the former leader.
His relatives have earlier accused police of torturing him in the jail.
Security forces arrested the former Somali region’s president, widely known as Abdi Iley a day after the Ethiopian state stripped him of his immunity, along with six other officials following days of violence that left dozens of people dead in the Ethiopia’s Somali region capital, Jigjiga in August.
During his reign, human rights groups have documents hundreds of people were killed by state terrorism, including many who are still registered as disappeared.
According to the New York-based Human Rights Watch, the military in the Somali region of Ethiopia displaced thousands of people and destroyed their homes. Many were detained and tortured, and even executed. Those who suffered were perceived to be sympathetic to the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), an armed opposition group in the region.
The Somali regional state in Ethiopia has officially announced the closure of its main prison facility, located in the capital, Jijiga mid September