Former deputy of NISS and Federal Police Commissioner, General Yared Zerihun Arrested in Ethiopia

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — Ethiopia’s former deputy intelligence chief has been arrested, Attorney General Berhanu Tsegaye said Thursday, in the latest move targeting security officials for human rights abuses and corruption.

“Former deputy of NISS and Federal Police Commission Commissioner General Yared Zerihun has been apprehended by police,” Berhanu Tsegaye said Twitter early Thursday.

He did not disclose any details, but the arrest followed that of dozens of security officials on charges of human rights abuse and corruption.

On Monday, the wife of Yared Zerihun was also arrested.

Sources told Reuters that she was trying to hide him. Yared was moved from that role to head the federal police in April but resigned three months later.

Series of arrests

On Tuesday, Ethiopia arrested the former head of a military-run industrial conglomerate and flew him in handcuffs to the capital, a day after authorities announced investigations targeting senior members of the security forces.

Kinfe Dagnew, a brigadier general in Ethiopia’s army and former chief executive of METEC, was taken into custody close to the border with Sudan and Eritrea. Kinfe is expected in court Thursday, after appearing there briefly Wednesday and requesting a lawyer.

On Monday, Berhanu said investigations had uncovered corruption at METEC (Metal and Engineering Corporation), which makes military equipment and is involved in sectors from agriculture to construction.

Promised reforms

Kinfe and Yared’s arrests are the most high-profile since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power in April promising to rein in the security services and tackle what he called economic mismanagement, corruption and rights abuses.

He has pushed through reforms that have upended decades-old policies and hierarchies in east Africa’s economic powerhouse, including moves to let private investors have stakes in the huge conglomerates run by the army and other state bodies.

In August, Ethiopia removed METEC from the $4 billion Grand Renaissance Dam project on the River Nile because of numerous delays in completing the project.