Eritrea tells Italy it’s got the wrong man in human trafficking case


The Eritrean government has told Italian officials they have the wrong man in an international human trafficking investigation.

In  June, 2016, British and Italian officials announced the capture of Medhanie Yehdego Mered, who is believed to be one of the most prolific people-smugglers between north Africa and Europe. However, various people have since come forward to tell officials they arrested an Eritrean refugee by mistaken identity.


Eritrean government backs up identity claims

On Tuesday, a document from the Eritrean government emerged that identifies the man being held in Italy as Medhanie Tesfarmariam Berhe, not the investigation’s prime suspect Medhanie Yehdego Mered.

Reports suggest that prosecutors in Rome have since broken ranks with their Sicilian colleagues, after admitting they could have the wrong man in custody. This comes after more than six months since reports first emerged that prosecutors were holding the wrong person.


Case continues to weaken

After his extradition from Sudan to Italy, the man believed by authorities to be Mered faced two prosecutions, but the prosecution’s case continues to weaken. In July last year, reports emerged that officials had in fact arrested Eritrean refugee Medhanie Tesfarmariam Berhe.

Victims of Mered’s alleged crimes came forward to say the man in custody was not who officials believed he was and Berhe’s own family identified the suspect as their missing relative.

The statement from Eritrea’s government marks the latest blow to the investigation conducted by British and Italian officials. If it’s confirmed they detained the wrong man, the episode will be a major embarrassment for numerous organisations involved – not to mention the trauma caused to an innocent man and his family.


Featured image: By Irish Defence Forces –, CC BY 2.0,

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.