In the aftermath of a mass shooting at Jigjiga’s airport, Ethiopian authorities grabbed the unnamed federal police officer suspected of murdering a lawmaker and wounding five others, including Fowsia Musse, the executive director of a Lewiston-based nonprofit, Maine Community Integration.

Juweriya Subcis attends a debriefing session Oct. 13, 2022, at the U.S. embassy in Addis Ababa for participants of the Mandela Washington Fellowship program she attended a few months earlier. A member of the Ethiopian Parliament, she was shot and killed later that month in a barrage of gunfire at  an airport in Jigjiga, Ethiopia, while greeting her sister and her children arriving from the United States.  Submitted photo

Pictures shared on social media show the man with his hands bound being in the back of a pickup truck surrounded by jeering, angry residents, many of whom alleged government involvement in what some saw as an assassination.

Authorities have never provided the man’s identity, but they did announce in December that he had been convicted by a military court of killing Juweriya Subcis at the airport. They sentenced him to die.

Executions are typically carried out by the Ethiopian National Defense Force via hanging or a firing squad.

The Cornell Law School’s Cornell Center on the Death Penalty Worldwide said the last two people known to have been executed in Ethiopia, in 1998 and 2007, were each convicted of assassinating a high-ranking government or military official.

About 120 people are on death row in Ethiopia, the Cornell Center reported.


“It is likely that the majority of these death sentences will not be carried out,” it said. “For the country’s growing number of death row inmates, this may mean a reprieve, but it also means a de facto sentence of indefinite imprisonment.”

Hiiraan Online, a Somali-oriented news site, noted that the death penalty in Ethiopia is only enforced if the country’s president signs the requisite paperwork.

Fowsia Musse, a Maine resident who was badly wounded in the shooting spree that killed her sister, called the requirement to obtain the president’s signature “BS.”

“The country’s in turmoil,” she said. “I don’t know what president is going to sign.”

Musse said she doubts the man who shot her sister to death will ever face execution because she thinks, based on what she’s been told by family and friends, that the soldier “was paid to kill her.”

But she also wonders if he is mentally ill, something common among  young people in the region who have seen so much trauma.


“I keep seeing his face,” she said. “In a strange way, I feel sad for him. He was so young.”

She said she has mixed feelings about what should happen to him.

“It would not be justice if he got shot in the head, a quick death. He should suffer,” Musse said. “If it was up to me, I wouldn’t shoot that man in the head. I would cut him into little pieces, day by day, one at a time, and torture him.”

Other times, she said, she’s in a more forgiving mood.

“Personally, I don’t have any kind of feeling, if I’m honest,” Musse said. “I’m not feeling anger. I’m not feeling sad. I don’t know what I’m feeling.”

She said she is working on forgiveness.

“Our fates are predetermined by God,” Musse said, “so whatever happened was meant to happen. That’s what Islam said. I have to tell you, though, it’s a hard concept to swallow. I’ve been struggling with that a lot.”

It is unclear what has happened to the convicted killer since his sentencing in December.

Efforts last week to reach a number of authorities in Jigjiga proved unsuccessful.

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