Italy: Eritrea fugitive to be prosecuted for human smuggling

ROME (AP) — An Eritrean fugitive is being extradited to Italy to face human trafficking charges after he was picked up at Ethiopia’s airport trying to board a flight for Australia, Italian police said Wednesday.

Ghebremehdhin Temesghen Ghebru, 35, is accused of helping run a human smuggling operation that funneled people from Eritrea, Ethiopia and Sudan to Libya, where they then boarded migrant smuggling boats bound for Italy and ultimately northern Europe, police said in a statement.

Police said Ghebru had been sought for over a year by prosecutors in Palermo, Sicily, and was detained at the Addis Abeba, Ethiopia airport, using an Australian passport, thanks to cooperation with Interpol and Europol, as well as Dutch and British law enforcement authorities.

Italy is the destination of choice for Libyan-based human traffickers who charge migrants seeking to reach Europe hundreds or thousands of dollars apiece for the dangerous Mediterranean crossing.

Just last week, Ethiopian authorities turned over to Dutch judicial authorities another Eritrean man suspected of heading a migrant-smuggling network that funneled people from Eritrea to the Netherlands. The man, whose identity wasn’t released, is suspected of people smuggling from 2014-2020.

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