Migrant crisis: ‘People-smuggler’ says he is wrong man

Left: An image of the man believed to be Mered Medhanie previously released by the UK National Crime Agency; Right: the man extradited to ItalyImage copyright
NCA/Polizia di Stato

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Left: An image of the man believed to be Mered Medhanie previously released by the UK National Crime Agency; Right: the man extradited to Italy

A man extradited to Italy and accused of being a top people smuggler says the authorities have got the wrong man.

Earlier this week, prosecutors announced the capture of trafficking kingpin Mered Medhanie.

But the man currently being held in an Italian jail says he is instead Medhanie Tesfarmariam Berhe, according to his lawyer.

He has been questioned by a judge and his legal situation is expected to be defined in the coming days.

The capture of Mered Medhanie, dubbed The General, was hailed as a breakthrough in the fight against people-smugglers who send thousands of migrants on dangerous boats to Europe.

Investigators say Mered Medhanie was responsible for the deaths of 359 migrants who drowned when their boat sank off the Italian coast in October 2013.

But doubts began to emerge soon after this week’s extradition, with friends and family saying that the man seen handcuffed being escorted off a plane was not the suspected trafficker.



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