Kingpin’s arrest justice for smuggling victims
from RAJI BASHIR in Khartoum, Sudan
KHARTOUM – THE extradition of an alleged Sudanese smuggler has been hailed as the first step to justice for migrants dying at the Mediterranean while crossing to Europe.
An alleged Eritrean smuggler, Medhanie Yehdego Mered, has been extradited to Italy from Sudan on charges of masterminding a vast criminal smuggling network.
Mered stands accused of contributing to hundreds of deaths at sea, including at least 359 people who died when a smuggling ship sank between Lampedusa and Malta in 2013.
While allegations have arisen that the wrong man was apprehended – a possible case of mistaken identity – the extradition order nevertheless represents a potential sea change in the prosecution of these seemingly invisible criminals, rights groups said.
Experts said while the trial would not be easy for prosecutors, the extradition order might be a major shift towards stemming the
ever-increasing number of deaths at sea at the hands of dangerous smuggling networks.
“In this crisis, we are not facing random acts of nature, but the crimes of men. We must find, identify and prosecute these groups,” said International Office of Migration director general, William Lacy Swing.
Since 2013 at least 10 000 people have died at sea trying to reach safety in Europe by crossing the Mediterranean. There have been over 2 800 deaths this year.
Many have perished at the hands of smugglers, who often exploit the most vulnerable.
– CAJ News
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