Ethiopia's ex-ruler Mengistu sentenced to death
Mengistu Haile Mariam, Ethiopia's former ruler, has been sentenced to death in absentia by the country's Supreme Court.
It overturned on appeal last year's ruling by the High Court sentencing Mengistu and 18 of his most senior aides to life in prison.
The judge said he had passed the death sentence as the defendants had tortured and executed thousands of innocent people, which amounted to genocide.
Mengistu has lived in exile in Zimbabwe since his overthrow in 1991.
Tens of thousands of people were killed during a period of Mengistu's 17-year rule known as the Red Terror.
"The court has decided to revoke the leniency appeal from the defendants," Judge Desta Gebru was quoted as saying by AFP news agency.
"It has sentenced them to death," he said.
The BBC's Tsigue Shiferaw says two of Mengistu's political associates who were sentenced to death live in the Italian embassy compound in the capital, Addis Ababa, where they sought refuge after Mengistu fled.
But the 16 other defendants are in jail in the capital.