UCF Global Perspectives


Mistaken Identity in Italian Human Trafficking Case

Alex Rister, Bok Fellow, Human Trafficking Awareness

July 19, 2019

Last Friday, a court in Palermo, Sicily ordered the immediate release of Medhanie Tesfamariam Behre in a case of mistaken identity. Behre, 32, was arrested in Sudan in 2016 and accused of being Medhanie Yehdego Mered, a human trafficking kingpin in one of the world’s largest human trafficking networks (Al Jazeera, AP News). Three years after being extradited to Italy, Behre was acquitted of human trafficking charges but was found guilty of aiding illegal immigration, a lesser charge (AP News, NY Times). Behre was sentenced to five years in prison for the lesser charge, but the judge ordered his immediate release, having served three years already (Al Jazeera).


At the time of Behre’s capture in 2016, Italy, Sudan and United Kingdom officials celebrated the result of their joint operation attempting to combat the human trafficking network spanning Eritrea, Ethiopia, Libya, Sudan, the UAE and Europe (Al Jazeera). According to Behre’s lawyer, Michele Calantropo, “It was a long battle to free a poor boy unjustly accused of being a human trafficking kingpin” (NY Times).






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