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Italian prosecutors reject DNA test in mistaken identity case

Mother of alleged human trafficker travelled to Sicily from Eritrea to take test – which will not be accepted as evidence The mother of a man accused of being one of the world’s most dangerous human

Mother of alleged human trafficker travelled to Sicily from Eritrea to take test – which will not be accepted as evidence

The mother of a man accused of being one of the world’s most dangerous human traffickers travelled from Eritrea to Sicily to undergo a DNA test which would prove that her son is the victim of a mistaken identity.

But her effort to free her son failed after Italian prosecutors refused to allow the test result to be submitted as evidence.

The man at the centre of Italy’s highest-profile human trafficking case has always claimed to be Medhanie Tesfamariam Berhe, a 29-year-old Eritrean refugee and former dairy worker. Behre’s familydata from his Facebook account and even the wife of the wanted man have all supported his claim.

But prosecutors in Palermo insist that he is Medhanie Yehdego Mered, a notorious 35-year-old people-smuggler who has sent thousands of Eritrean refugees from Sudan to Libya and then onwards to Italy.

This week Berhe’s mother, Meaza Zerai Weldai, 59, travelled from Asmara to Palermo for a DNA test which showed she was the mother of the detained man. But Italian investigators rejected the submission of the test as evidence.

Under Italian law, documents originating outside an investigation can only be submitted as evidence in a trial if agreed upon by both sides. “We are basing our legal proceedings on other data, not on DNA,’’ Annamaria Picozzi, a prosecutor and member of the investigative team in Palermo, said at the court on Wednesday.

The detained man’s lawyer, Michele Calantropo, said: “The DNA test says that Mrs Meaza Zerai Weldai is my client’s mother and therefore he cannot be Medhanie Yehdego Mered. For about a year and a half my client has been unjustly imprisoned.”

The suspect was extradited to Italy from Sudan with the help of the British Foreign Office and the British National Crime Agency (NCA). With north African traffickers sending thousands of migrants to their deaths in unseaworthy boats in the Mediterranean, his arrest attracted intense attention.

But almost immediately questions were raised over his identity.

In a series of articles, the Guardian has produced photographs, documents and testimony that cast doubt on the prosecution’s allegation that the detained man is Mered. “This is not my name. This is not my surname. This is not my identity,” Berhe told the court on 3 October, speaking for the first time since his trial started more than a year ago. “You are prosecuting the wrong man. This is all absurd.’’

Dressed in a white veil, Berhe’s mother attended the court hearing on Wednesday. “I faced a long journey from Eritrea to save my son but it seems nothing is working to convince them,” she said. “My son is not a trafficker. And they know it.”

Zerai said her son left the family home in the Eritrean capital, Asmara, in October 2014. Two years later she learned of his arrest from a TV news report. She said: “I was at home when at one point a neighbour knocked on my door and asked me to turn on the television. The newscaster talked of a dangerous human trafficker who had been arrested in Sudan. The neighbour said that the arrested man resembled my son, a lot. When I turned on the television I could not believe my eyes.”

Despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, prosecutors insist the man captured in Khartoum is the real smuggler – even though they have not been able to find a single witness to testify against him.

At Wednesday’s hearing, the judge invited the prosecutors to reconsider allowing the DNA test to be submitted. The prosecutors postponed their final decision to the next hearing, on 9 November.

The NCA said it could not comment on a continuing case. Italian prosecutors also declined to comment.

Source: The Guardian

Review overview
  • Eyobel October 27, 2017

    The Eritrean authorities in Italy could help in the complex matter but they are involved in all smuggling and crimes.

  • Danilo October 27, 2017

    Poor mother, she could proof here parenthood if she was allowed the test but how could she proof his innocence. The case is all ready complicated politically. I invite experts the roll of DNA on the cene of crime by it self.

  • alem October 28, 2017

    Where is medhanie hiding though? The regime in asmara tried to help him out, but how can one trust id with his picture but d/t name presented by mafia regime. They should check all info and evidences presented against him that led to his arrest against him only. Most importantly, they should prove that he is the person involved using witnesses regardless of his name or id that can be forged. The burden of proof is on them not on him or his mother. If they can not proove that he was involved in any way, he should be left free.

  • TesfaldetAbraha October 28, 2017

    አታ እንታይ ዓይነት ዶናቁር ኢኹም ዲኤንአ እንተ ሞይቱ ወይ ወሉዱ እዩ ዘድሊ እምበር ሰብ የስግር እንተ ነሩ ዲኤንአ አይጠቅምን ኢዩ ሐንጎል ኩም አስርሕዎ ድሐር ክአ አዲኡ ሙዃና ዘይሙዃና እንታይ መረጋገጺ አለኩም

    • AHMED SALEH !!! October 28, 2017

      Shame on you to act like arrogant person . I care less if you
      support HGDF but try to make a little sense in your comments .
      We have enough issues to deal with common enemies that
      involved in our issues with the blessing of your leader .
      Open your eyes and ears for the sake of reality if in deed
      your primary concern is our people’s interest .
      Otherwise you have other sites to defend king Issayas authority.

  • AHMED SALEH !!! October 28, 2017

    His lawyer must contact Eritrean civil organizations to find witnesses who
    know the real smuggler in Sudan . It seems all evidences supports his
    innocence . Mistaken identity from Italian authority , British and Sudan security intelligence have captured wrong man as their escape goat . But at the end
    the law will give him innocent verdict and probably compensation for endured sufferings .

    • Danilo October 28, 2017

      Dear brother Ahmed,tesfaldet is telling us ወኸርያ ኢንተ መይታ ሹሉ የላን ኢዩ ዝብለና ዘሎ።let’s wait and see ኣጋጽባሕ ኢያ ተጋውሕ።

  • AHMED SALEH !!! October 28, 2017

    Selamat brother Danilo
    We have many products of Issayism theory . Blind supporters
    who say AMIEN to every word from his mouth . The sad part
    is when you observe some of them in denial on causes for the
    lost of their family members still defend his regime . That is scary .
    Since wrongs reigned to control people’s lives the unnecessary
    inflicted pain will not stop at this time .
    People may run but can not hide from the TRUTH in front their eyes .

  • TesfaldetAbraha October 28, 2017

    ዋላ ገበንኛ እንተ ኮነ ቁም ነገር የብሉን ጥልያን ብዙሕ አይአስሮዎን ኢዮም እዚ እዩ እቲ ጸገም አብ ኤሮጳ ንገበኘኛታት ቀሊል መቅጻዕቲ ይህቦኦም እዚ ስብ እዚ ናይ ሞት መቅጻዕቲ ምስተወሰነሉ ግን አብ ዓዲ ጥልያን ዕድለኛ እዩ ናብ ዒራዒሮ ኮንተይነር እንተ ዝሰድዎ ጽቡቅ ነሩ

    • AHMED SALEH !!! October 29, 2017

      It is okay Tesfom . I don’t blame you . Erairo prison purpose is for
      Eritrean like this young guy by your evil leader like Derge of
      Ethiopia did in their Era . Enjoy at the expense of your brothers
      and sisters sufferings until the day come .
      Mesiluka ember zeyhalf negher yelon . Bejeom mesakin ahwatka
      a biet maeserti zisakeyu zelewu . Wey gado gizye grnbit arkibatlna

    • alem October 29, 2017

      1. He is not yet sentenced, he is only in the process to determine whether he is a traficker or not.
      2.he is not and will not be tortured unlike the unlucky ones in your eraero. Eraero is nothing but a proof how crude, backward and uncivilized the regime is.
      3. If he is determined to have committed crimes, he will face justice and may be more than that.
      4. His mothers DNA does not prove his innocence or the opposite- u are right on that. But 99.9% eritreans do not know that. The only evidence they are going to use in this case is phone conversations b/n him and his accomplices and his alleged victims. I am sure most of his victims have not had any encounter with him. Arresting the real one if different than him would have solved the problem.

  • Simon G October 29, 2017

    I am sure this should be very easy to prove. There are thousands of Eritreans who crossed the Mediterranean sea in Europe, especially in Italy. Why don’t they ask them.
    Mistaken identity is not uncommon. Innocent till he proved guilty. Italy government need to Prove Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.

    • alem October 29, 2017

      U are right, he is considered innocent till proven guilty. But his contact was more with the top criminals who are non eritreans. Most know him by name or nickname without physical encounter which makes it hard to find witnesses.

      • alem October 29, 2017

        It will take time but the truth will come out. So every one calm down and hold your breath. If he is found to be innocent he will be redressed unlike the unlucky victims of the backward hgdf/ shaebia. Sometimes i wish if we did not have this fake independence and the war had ended in nakfa and karura.

  • Kalighe October 30, 2017

    Many people think the real Medhanie is still living in Sudan, in hiding.
    One reason why he was not extradited is that because both Sudanese and Eritrean officials are involved in people trafficking business and obviously they are not going to send to Europe someone who will expose the whole network of criminals on both sides of the border.
    As Simon G. said above if they seek help from young people who lived in Sudan, and had seen the man it will be easy to identify the criminal.
    It seems the Sudanese security people cheated the British and the Italians think the latter always right.