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Alleged top human smuggler claims innocence

Rome – A man who was extradited to Rome from Sudan to face trial as a top migrant smuggler who identified himself as Medesime Tesfamariam Berhe, on Friday said he is innocent.

During an initial interrogation, the suspect admitted that he owned the telephone that had been tapped by investigators.

He said that the conversations the police heard about trips over the Mediterranean to Sicily were conversation with his family about his plans to take the journey.

The suspect’s defence attorney, Michele Calantropo called for his immediate release.

On Wednesday, Italian and British anti-crime agencies announced the arrest of 35-year-old human trafficker Mered Yehdego Medhane who the Italian and British authorities described as a ruthless criminal.

He had been caught in Sudan and flown to Italy to face trial.

However, the BBC had quoted unnamed friends of the arrested as saying that his real name was Mered Tesfamariam.

A woman in Norway who said she was his sister told the BBC’s Newsnight programme that her brother was completely innocent”.

The Guardian, also quoting friends, named the man as Medhanie Tesfamariam Berhe, and said he was a 27-year-old refugee arrested in a street in Khartoum late last month.

Mered Yehdego Medhane, according to Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA), is one of the world’s most-wanted people smugglers who according to Italian police,Renato Cortese, is a criminal network that turns over millions of euros.

A spokesman in London for the NCA, which contributed the arrest by sharing intelligence, said on Thursday that it was too soon to comment on media reports.


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