Eritrean human trafficking suspect extradited to Netherlands
An Eritrean man has been extradited from Ethiopia to the Netherlands on charges of running a large-scale human trafficking ring using “heavy violence” including blackmail and torture, Dutch prosecutors said on Wednesday.
The 38-year-old was arrested in Ethiopia two years ago and sentenced to 18 years behind bars for human trafficking by an Addis Ababa court.
The suspect arrived at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport early on Wednesday and will make a first appearance in court behind closed doors on Thursday.
Identified in news reports at the time as Tewelde Goitom, the man allegedly played a leading role within a criminal gang smuggling African migrants to the Netherlands via Libya between 2014 and 2020.
“On the way, victims were abused, tortured and raped in Libya, while being locked up in camps with hundreds of others,” the Dutch public prosecution service said.
“Several migrants are said to have died in these conditions,” it said in a statement.
Back in the Netherlands, relatives were being blackmailed and forced to pay large sums of money in order for their family members to travel to Europe.
“The crossing to Europe then took place in crowded and unseaworthy boats. Many died,” the prosecutors added.
The suspect was an associate of Kidane Zekarias Habtemariam, 38, who is wanted internationally on human trafficking charges, prosecutors said.
Kidane escaped from custody last year while in the dock in Ethiopia and has since been sentenced in absentia to life in prison.