A 39-year-old Eritrean Kidane Zekarias Habtemariam, who was wanted for large-scale human trafficking of people from Eritrea to Europe, was arrested in Sudan on January 1. This is reported by the Public Prosecution Service. The Netherlands will ask for his extradition.
The 39-year-old man had been on the National Investigation List since October. The man was apprehended during an international United Arab Emirates police operation, which tracked him down in a money laundering investigation. He’s stuck there now.
In the Netherlands, the man is the main suspect in an investigation by the Public Prosecution Service and the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee (KMar) into human trafficking. The Public Prosecution Service speaks of an ‘extremely violent criminal organization’ that mainly smuggles African migrants to Europe. He is described on the national wanted list as “one of the most notorious and cruelest human traffickers in the world.”
Kidane Zekarias Habtemariam ran a camp in Libya housing thousands of migrants. His victims had to deal with aggravated assault, kidnapping and rape, among other things. Many did not survive the journey to Europe and even if his victims did arrive in the Netherlands, he would have extorted his victims by making them pay money for the next family member who was on his way to Europe.
The Eritrean was internationally reported via Interpol. He was previously detained in Ethiopia, but managed to escape during a hearing in his trial. In absentia, he was sentenced to life imprisonment in Ethiopia for human trafficking in Africa.
The Netherlands requests extradition
The Netherlands will ask the United Arab Emirates for extradition, so that the Eritrean can stand trial here for criminal offenses that have not yet been prosecuted in Ethiopia. In addition to human smuggling, according to the Public Prosecution Service, it is also about extortion. This would have earned his criminal organization large sums of money.
In October last year, Ethiopia extradited another suspect in this case to the Netherlands. This other suspect will appear at a first pro forma hearing at the Overijssel court on Tuesday, January 10, 2023.
The investigation is being carried out in collaboration with Italy, the ICC, Europol and Interpol, among others, the OM reports.
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