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Ethiopia Convicts At Least 38 Opposition Activists

An Ethiopian court has convicted at least 38 opposition activists in a trial stemming from deadly post-election violence in 2005.

The court Monday, found the activists guilty of breaching Ethiopia's constitution and organizing an armed rebellion against the government.

Most of the defendants had refused to recognize the trial and did not present a defense. The trial was widely condemned by human rights groups as an attempt to stifle dissent.

The activists now face a possible death penalty. Judge Adil Ahmed said today that sentencing in the case will begin July eighth.

The unrest in June and November 2005 followed elections that the opposition Coalition for Union and Democracy says were rigged. The Ethiopian government has acknowledged killing 193 civilians who were protesting the elections.

The government originally put more than 130 opposition figures, journalists and others on trial, charging them with treason and attempted genocide. The government later reduced the charges against some of the defendants and dropped charges completely against others, including five Voice of America journalists who were being tried in absentia.

Last week, the Ethiopian government launched a separate case against the opposition, charging 55 activists with instigating armed violence after the 1997 elections.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.