Police Have Wrong Man in Eritrean Smuggler Trial, Say Victims

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Two former victims and the family of suspect Medhanie Berhe say police have the wrong man in an international human trafficking case.

Italian and British police last month claimed to have arrested notorious people-smuggler Medhanie Mered. However, the suspect insists he’s Medhanie Berhe and completely innocent. And now Berhe’s family are joined by two former victims of the smuggling ring to say police have the wrong man.

 

Family, victims testify

In what’s starting to look like a terrible case of mistaken identity, police are now investigating whether they have the wrong person. Sudanese police arrested Berhe last month before he was extradited to Italy, accused of being notorious 35-year-old smuggler Medhanie Mered.

Italian prosecutors claimed to have “the boss of one of the most important criminal groups operating in central Africa and Libya”. Mared allegedly boasts to have smuggled at least 13,000 people to Europe. However, just hours after police announced his arrest people began identifying the suspect as 29-year-old refugee Medhanie Tesfamariam Berhe.

Initially, friends of Berhe first suggested a case of mistaken identity but now family and two former victims are in Italy to testify.

 

Trial due to start

Italian prosecutors and British police still claim to have Medhanie Mered. Either way, the suspect is due to stand trial this week, where the two former victims are expected to testify.

If the judge accepts their testimony, the high-profile case will turn into a major embarrassment for various organisations. The Italian investigators involved, Britain’s National Crime Agency and the British Embassy in Sudan have all celebrated their roles in the case.

Worse still, confirmation that investigators and police have the wrong man would mean Mered is still at large and enjoying the show from afar.

 

Featured image: National Crime Agency

About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.