Just hours after British police arrested a man on suspicion of being the world’s most wanted smuggler, dubbed ‘The General’, it was found that they captured the wrong man. It was a case of mistaken identity in which a man from Italy named Medhanie Tesfamariam Kidane was nabbed by the police as he was confused with the high-profile Eritrean smuggler Mered Medhanie.
Initially, investigators announced the arrest amidst much fanfare on Wednesday morning. However, they were later informed by three close friends of the detainee that Kidane was a 27-year-old refugee and not the smuggler the police were looking for.
For a while, British and Italian police have been trying to capture Mered, a 35-year-old Eritrean notoriously known for people smuggling across the Mediterranean Sea. He is believed to be the mastermind behind the transit of a boat carrying 359 migrants in October 2013, which unfortunately sank near the Italian island of Lampedusa. In a recent Europe migrant crisis, bodies of 104 men washed off to the shores of Libya.
Following claims that the wrong person has been arrested, Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) is now working hard once again to find the right man. A representative of NCA told the Mirror, “This is a complex multi-partner operation and it is too soon to speculate about these claims.” However, he feels confident of NCA’s intelligence-gathering process, which will help seize the wanted person someday.
The man mistaken for the ‘The General’ shared a first name similar to that of the wanted man. After investigating the matter, police found that the innocent man had never been to Libya, where Mered was supposed to be conducting his operations, and had nothing to do with people smuggled outside Europe.
Kidane’s cousin, Fshaye Tasfai, 42, told the police that they captured the wrong guy. “It’s incredible—he’s not a human trafficker. He’s from my family. He lived in my father’s house. He left Eritrea in 2014, and then went to Kahrtoum about a year ago,” he said.
In a telephone interview to Estefanos, Mered confessed to smuggling 13,000 people. The smuggler rose to great heights in a very short time in the smuggling business, which is indeed a wonder, according to The Guardian. His wrongdoings claimed many innocent lives as the death toll is rising each day. However, a recent news brought some relief to the families of 5000 victims who were rescued off Libya beach.