Norfolk State University Professor Facing Trial for His Life in Ethiopia

In 2005 Yacob Hailemariam, a professor of business law at Norfolk State University, the historically black educational institution in Virginia, resigned his faculty position in order to return to his native Ethiopia to run for a seat in the country’s new parliament.

Last May he was overwhelmingly elected to parliament but the ruling party, which was in charge of counting the votes, claimed that it had won 60 percent of the vote. It then instituted measures to consolidate almost all power of the state in the office of the prime minister. In protest, Hailemariam and several other opposition leaders refused to take their seats in parliament. They were subsequently jailed, kept in solitary confinement, and charged with treason.

Then in late December, Hailemariam was charged with fostering genocide. Ironically it was Hailemariam who was the chief prosecutor for the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal investigating genocide against nearly one million Rwandans.

If convicted on either charge Hailemariam could be sentenced to death.


Copyright © 2006. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. All rights reserved.