A court in the Netherlands has convicted a 63-year-old man of committing war crimes under a brutal Marxist regime in Ethiopia in the 1970s and sentenced him to life imprisonment.

Eshetu Alemu had accepted blame for crimes of the former regime known as the Dergue but told judges he did not personally commit them.

But judges at The Hague District Court ruled Friday that he was responsible for acts including murder and torture of political prisoners. The court in a statement called the crimes "so serious that only a life sentence" is the fitting punishment.

The Dergue was led by former dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam, who now lives in exile in Zimbabwe.

Alemu moved to the Netherlands in the early 1990s and was granted Dutch citizenship in 1998.