Ethiopia extradites trafficker to the Netherlands in criminal case on migration crime
At the request of the Netherlands, Ethiopia has extradited a 38-year-old Eritrean who is a key suspect in an international investigation into serious migration crimes. The man is suspected of having smuggled Eritrean migrants from Africa to the Netherlands on a large scale. The migrants were extorted and subjected to brutal violence in camps, including beatings, starvation and sexual violence.
The investigation by the Netherlands Public Prosecution Service (PPS) and the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee (RNLM) focuses on a criminal organization involved in the smuggling of African migrants to Europe. The criminal investigation is conducted in collaboration with Italy, Europol, Interpol and the ICC, among others.
The 38-year-old man allegedly played a leading role in this criminal organization. He is suspected of smuggling Eritreans to the Netherlands on a large scale and under life-threatening circumstances between 2014 and 2020. On their way to Europe, victims were beaten, tortured and raped, while they were held in camps in Libya with hundreds of others. Several migrants died under these circumstances. Meanwhile, family members in the Netherlands were extorted and forced to pay large sums of money before the imprisoned migrants were allowed to continue their journey. The crossing of the Mediterranean Sea to the European mainland subsequently took place using overcrowded and barely seaworthy boats. Numerous migrants perished at sea.
Conviction in Ethiopia
The extraditee was arrested and tried in Ethiopia. Last year, a court in Addis Ababa sentenced him to 18 years imprisonment on charges of human smuggling in Africa. The suspect is said to have collaborated with other smugglers, including Kidane Zekarias Habtemariam (38). Kidane was placed on the Netherlands National Most Wanted List last year and is also listed internationally. Therefore, his full name is mentioned and his photo is shown. Kidane’s current whereabouts are unknown. He was detained in Ethiopia in 2020, but managed to escape during transport to a trial session. Kidane has been sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment in Ethiopia for human smuggling in Africa.
Trial in The Netherlands
The Dutch public prosecutor intends to bring both men and other members of the associated organized crime group to justice in the Netherlands on several counts of migration related violent crimes, committed on the route from Eritrea to the Netherlands or other EU-member states. In addition to the atrocities surrounding the smuggling, the man who has now been extradited is suspected of extortion. Through this, the organized crime group he is part of earned large sums of money. Since these criminal offenses partly took place in the Netherlands, the Netherlands Public Prosecution Service has jurisdiction to prosecute him for these crimes. The Dutch National Public Prosecutor's Office in Zwolle is preparing the case. The Netherlands is grateful to Ethiopia for the good cooperation in the extradition procedure of the 38-year-old man. The suspect arrived this morning on Schiphol airport. He will be arraigned tomorrow, 6 October 2022, before to the examining magistrate.