Italy Courts Insists Eritrean Smuggler Suspect Is the Right Man


After investigations into the identity of a suspected human trafficking kingpin, Italian courts insist they have the right man.

The suspect arrested in June claimed to be the victim of mistaken identity. Witnesses and the man’s family later supported his claims, prompting the courts to reinvestigate. They now claim the suspect is the man they intended to arrest, despite confusion over his identity.


Identity crisis

Shortly after British investigators and Italian courts were celebrating the arrest of Medhanie Yehdego Mered, they had a problem on their hands. The man claimed to be a simple Eritrean migrant who happens to have a similar name. That alone wouldn’t put much doubt in the minds of prosecutors, but when witnesses and family members stepped forward to support his claims, the situation changed.

Medhanie Yehdego Mered is believed to be the mastermind behind smuggling more than 300,000 people from Africa to Europe. If his identity is confirmed and he’s successfully convicted, he will be the first kingpin to face justice since the start of Europe’s immigration crisis three years ago.


Investigation errors

Despite insisting they have the right man, the courts admit there was an element of mistaken identity at play. They now claim the name Medhanie Yehdego Mered was wrong to begin with. The courts say they were always looking for suspect Medhanie Tesfamariam Berhe but they had the wrong profile.

They also say a photo of the suspect that circulated – bearing little resemblance to the suspect – is of another man who has nothing to do with the case. Meanwhile, the suspect’s lawyer maintains Mared is an Eritrean refugee who has nothing to do with people smuggling.

“We are also continuing our own investigations and we will show our results to the judge at the next hearing on Sept. 21. The wrong man is in prison,” he told Reuters.


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.