One of the world’s most wanted people smugglers is due before a court in Italy after being arrested in Sudan. Mered Medhanie, known as “The General” and believed to be the mastermind behind a major criminal organisation responsible for smuggling thousands of migrants from the Middle East and Africa to Europe, was flown to Rome overnight. “The suspect facing justice is a character without scruples and without any respect for human life; an individual who occupies a key role in the operational center of a criminal network that moves millions of euros,” Italian investigator Renato Cortese said on Wednesday. The 35-year-old Eritrean is accused of being partly responsible for the 2013 Lampedusa tragedy in which at least 359 migrants lost their lives when their boat capsized off the Italian coast.
Medhanie is a prolific people smuggler and has absolute disregard for human life.
Tom Dowdall, Britain’s National Crime Agency deputy director
Medhanie, who got his nickname because he styles himself on former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, was detained by Sudanese authorities on 24 May. He had been tracked down to an address in the El Diem area of Sudan’s capital Khartoum by Britain’s National Crime Agency. Wiretapped phone conversations showed how he bragged about packing migrants in boats and paid officials in Libya to release detained any who were detained in groups of 20. “This is a demonstration of how little these organizations and their bosses respect human life, the lives of all those desperate people who for various reasons attempt to reach Italy and Europe in the hope of a better life,” said Palermo chief prosecutor Francesco Lo Voi.
Medhanie no doubt thought he was beyond the reach of European justice but we were able to support the Italians by tracking him down to Sudan.