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DENVER—An Ethiopian immigrant acknowledged in a letter to a federal judge that he is a man who prosecutors suspect tortured and killed dozens of political prisoners in his home country in the 1970s, a newspaper reported Thursday.
However, the man—who identified himself as Kefelegn Alemu Worku and is in custody on other charges— denied last year that he is a former guard at a prison known for atrocities and human rights abuses,
"He denies all of it," Matthew Golla, a federal public defender, said in September when his client was arrested on immigration charges. Golla did not return a phone call Thursday from The Associated Press seeking further comment.
Golla said his client had lived peacefully in Denver for more than eight years and should be released.
The man, who had been living under an assumed name, is scheduled for trial on Aug. 12 on charges of unlawfully procuring citizenship or naturalization, and aggravated identity theft. He has pleaded not guilty, but Instead of going to trial he wants to plead guilty at a hearing scheduled for Thursday, the Denver Post reported ( http://tinyurl.com/msycav8).
If convicted of both counts, he could face up to 12 years in prison and fines up to $500,000. He has not been charged in Denver with any crimes related to prison abuse.
The man recently sent a hand-written letter to U.S. District Judge John Kane saying he had lied to U.S. government officials about his identity and knows it was wrong.
"My name is Kefelegne-Alemu-Worku. ... I lied to U.S. gov't officials and I accepted documents that were not rightfully mine," according to documents filed in federal court. "This was wrong and I apologize for my errors I simply wanted to live in America."
Established during the late 1970s in a campaign known as the Red Terror, the Ethiopian prison was called "one of the most systematic uses of mass murder by a state ever witnessed in Africa" by the global watchdog group Human Rights Watch.
Homeland Security Agent Jeffrey Lembke previously said a prison guard had been spotted in May 2011 in a suburban Denver restaurant by a former prisoner. The man went to authorities with his suspicions.
Two other Ethiopian immigrants who also say they were held at the prison identified the guard in a photo lineup, authorities said. The three immigrants told authorities the guard participated in beatings and torture sessions that included a cattle prod, rifle butts, whips and pipes.
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ትኩስ እና ሰበር ዜና፣ በብዛት የታዩ ቪድዮዎችን፣ ድራማዎችን፣ሙዚቃዎችን እና አስገራሚ ታሪኮችን በኢሜል አድራሻዎ እንልካለን። ኢሜሎን ያስመዘግቡ።