Eritrean Suspect Extradited Human Trafficker ‘is Wrong Man’, Interview with His Sister
Friends of a man extradited to Italy on Tuesday on people smuggling charges say police have the wrong man.
Prosecutors believe Mered Medhanie, known as The General, is at the heart of the operation to smuggle migrants from Africa to Europe.
An Eritrean man authorities say is Mr Mered was held in Sudan in May and flown to Rome on Tuesday.
But the man’s friends told the BBC there had been a case of mistaken identity and he was innocent.
He was named by friends as Mered Tesfamariam.
A woman in Norway identified herself as the sister of the man arrested, telling the BBC’s Newsnight programme her brother was “completely innocent”.
But Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA), that was also involved in the operation, said it was “too soon to speculate” about the claims.
“The NCA is confident in its intelligence gathering process,” a statement said.
An Italian police official told the BBC that he was unaware of any investigation into the identity of the suspected smuggler.
The BBC understands that the Italian police still believe they have the right person.