KHARTOUM: The most wanted Eritrean refugee in the world for being involved in human smuggling was arrested in Sudan with the help of the coordination of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) authorities.
According to Al Jazeera’s report, Kidane Zekarias Habtemariam is accused of being the kingpin of smuggling and running a refugee camp in Libya that houses hundreds of East African migrants seeking passage to Europe.
However, most of the refugees were also allegedly kidnapped, raped and extorted.
UAE Minister of Interior, Saeed Abdullah al-Suwaidi said, Habtemariam was the subject of two Interpol red notices, namely from Ethiopia and the Netherlands, and was arrested on January 1 by the Sudanese police with the help of the UAE authorities.
The Eritrean man is said to have been on the police radar since 2019, known for his brutality and violence in treating migrants.
“We are now closing one of the smugglers’ traffic routes in Europe which illegally became the route to move thousands of migrants from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan through Libya and into Europe,” said Saeed Abdullah in a statement.
He added that the criminal was arrested after a joint investigation by the UAE and Interpol started last year by detecting illegal financial transactions made by his younger brother.
“Now, the man is facing prosecution in the UAE for money laundering and the country’s authorities will reassess the possibility of extradition after the case is closed in the UAE,” said Saeed Abdullah.
Habtemariam was detained in Ethiopia in 2020 but was released after a year.
He was later sentenced to life imprisonment in absentia (physically) to the country.-AFP
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