Suspect extradited for people smuggling 'is wrong man': Prosecutors
June 9, Paris: Friends of a man extradited to Italy on Tuesday on people smuggling charges say police have the wrong man, reports said.
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 Mered was held in Sudan in May and flown to Rome on Tuesday, authorities said.
But the man's friends told the local media there had been a case of mistaken identity and he was innocent. He was named by friends as Mered Tesfamariam.
A spokesman for Britain's National Crime Agency (NCA) that was involved in the operation told the Press Association they were "liaising with our partners".
This is a complex multi-partner operation and it is too soon to speculate about these claims, it added.
The NCA said it had tracked the suspect down to an address in Khartoum, where he was then arrested. Images of him arriving in Rome were distributed by Italian police on Wednesday.
Meron Estefanos, a Swedish-Eritrean journalist who interviewed Mered last year, told Swedish media the man in the images was not him, but was instead a 28-year-old man with the same name.
The Oslo Times International News Network