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They arrested the world’s most wanted human trafficker. The Dutch want to judge him

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The Dutch prosecutor’s office has offered a reward of 20,000 euros (more than 480,000 kronor) for a tip-off that led to the arrest of 39-year-old Eritrean Kidan Zekarias Habtemariam.

Earlier this year, the Dutch got a treat – the world’s most wanted human trafficker was arrested in Sudan on January 1. The man, for whom Ethiopia was previously sentenced to life imprisonment, was jointly captured by the Sudanese and United Arab Emirates security forces.

Sayyid Abdullah Suwajdi, from the Emirate’s Ministry of Interior, said, “We have closed one of the most important smuggling routes to Europe, where thousands of migrants from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan are moving to Europe via Libya.” .

The arrests come ahead of a joint investigation by the United Arab Emirates and Interpol into the suspicious financial transactions of Habtemariam’s brother.

Torture, hunger, rape

An Eritrean smuggler took advantage of the chaos that followed the overthrow of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi to become one of the key crime bosses. He became famous as the leader of the camp in the town of Baní Valid, located about 180 kilometers from Tripoli.

He imprisoned immigrants who wanted to reach Europe for months in a huge warehouse building and had armed Libyan guards at his disposal. Affected by oppressive regimes in the eastern part of the continent, people went to Libya, where smugglers promised to put them on a ship at a pre-agreed price. But when the fugitives arrived on the scene, the gang drastically increased the price, locking them in the camp and forcing them to call their relatives every day to ask for more money. The longer it lasted, the more violence the immigrants experienced.

Among them, Valid Mine earned the nickname Ghost Town due to the fact that many of the people held there disappeared without a trace. The gang also sold some immigrants to other criminal groups.

Survivors spoke of starvation, rape and brutal torture. This either ended with relatives of the victims paying a ransom, usually up to six thousand dollars, or the immigrants were killed.

“He lived in a house next to the camp. Ethiopian Fuad Bedru, 24, told the Middle East Eye host, “He came to see us and beat someone up when he was in the mood.” “That man is an animal, a monster. I have experienced all kinds of atrocities. “Kidane and his followers are covered in blood, killing means nothing to them,” he said.

Shot for a missed chance

The victims told Dutch police that Habtemariam was holding football matches among immigrants in Baní Valid. Winners can rape a woman from the opposing team as a prize. Players who didn’t convert the odds then faced a bullet.

He did his dirty work in Libya with his Eritrean friend and close friend Tewolde Goitom, also known as Valid. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison by an Ethiopian court last year for human trafficking.

Goitom allegedly raped hundreds of women in that camp, but when one of the witnesses started talking about it in the Ethiopian court, the smuggler’s lawyer stopped him, saying it had nothing to do with the case.

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Habtemariam was also caught in Ethiopia, but managed to bribe an official with more than $200,000 and escaped, staying briefly in Kenya, then leaving the country a few months later.

As the newspaper De Volkskrant writes, the Netherlands rarely puts foreigners on their national wanted list. This time, however, he made an exception, because relatives of Habtemariam’s victims live in the country, and they themselves became victims of blackmail. The Netherlands will therefore ask the United Arab Emirates, where the suspect was taken, to extradite him.

But first, he will be tried in an Arab country where he is accused of money laundering.

The aforementioned Tewolde Goitom, extradited by Ethiopia, will also appear before the Dutch court. The first hearing will be held next week.

Amsterdam is home to a large Eritrean community, consisting of both refugees and groups loyal to the Eritrean regime, which sometimes leads to conflicts between these groups. The Dutch diplomat, whose name has not been released, refers in this context to the “long fingers” of the regime in Asmara, Eritrea.

Source: Seznam Zpravy

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