Netherlands Public Prosecution Service charges Eritrean for violence against migrants

A 40-year-old Eritrean has been summoned by the Dutch court for atrocities allegedly committed against migrants traveling from Libya to Europe. The man is in custody in the United Arab Emirates. The Public Prosecution Service (OM) has requested his extradition, but will try him in absentia if necessary. The man is, among other things, suspected of participating in a criminal organization that was involved in human smuggling, hostage-taking, extortion and violence, including sexual violence.

On Tuesday, April 16, the Public Prosecution Service will explain the charges at a first public court hearing in Zwolle. A second case against another suspected leader of the criminal organization is already pending before the Overijssel District Court. According to the Public Prosecution Service, he earned large sums of money by extorting in particular Eritrean migrants. The other suspect was previously extradited from Ethiopia to the Netherlands. There have been several pre-trial hearings in his lawsuit.

A total of seven suspects have been summoned in this criminal case about migration-related crimes. The investigation, carried out together with the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee (KMar), involves collaboration with Italy, the International Criminal Court (ICC), Europol and Interpol. It focuses on an extremely violent criminal organization that brought Eritreans to the Netherlands on a large scale between 2014 and 2020 under life-threatening conditions.

En route, victims were abused, tortured and raped while detained in camps in Libya with hundreds of others. Several migrants are said to have died in these circumstances. In the meantime, relatives in the Netherlands were being extorted and had to pay large sums of money before the detained family member was allowed to continue traveling.

The 40-year-old Eritrean suspect was wanted internationally since 2021. The man was previously imprisoned in Ethiopia, but managed to escape during a hearing in his trial. He was sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment in Ethiopia for human smuggling in Africa. On January 1, 2023, he was arrested in Sudan in an international police operation led by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which identified him in a money laundering investigation. The Public Prosecution Service is confident that he will eventually be extradited, so that he can stand trial in the Netherlands.

SeeĀ the Dutch press release.