Italy to prosecute Eritrean fugitive for human smuggling

ROME (HPD) — An Eritrean fugitive will be extradited to Italy to face human smuggling charges after he was detained at an Ethiopian airport while trying to board a flight to Australia, Italian police said Wednesday.

Ghebremehdhin Temesghen Ghebru, 35, is accused of helping run a human-smuggling operation that brought people from Eritrea, Ethiopia and Sudan to Libya, where the migrants boarded smugglers’ boats bound for Italy with the ultimate goal of reaching countries in northern Europe, police said in a statement.

The prosecutor’s office in Palermo, Sicily, had been looking for Ghebru for more than a year. He was detained at the Addis Ababa airport in Ethiopia, where he had used an Australian passport, thanks to cooperation with Interpol and Europol, as well as with the Dutch and British authorities.

Italy is the destination of choice for Libyan-based human smugglers, who charge migrants hoping to reach Europe hundreds or thousands of dollars per person for the perilous Mediterranean crossing.

Just last week, Ethiopian authorities handed over to Dutch justice another Eritrean man suspected of leading a people-smuggling ring that brought people from Eritrea to the Netherlands. The man, whose identity was not released, is charged with human smuggling between 2014 and 2020.

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