Authorities questioning migrant trafficking suspect
This photo taken from a video and released by the Italian Police shows Medhane Yehdego Mered, center, a 35-year-old Eritrean, arrested two weeks ago in Sudan, upon his arrival at Ciampino's airport, in the outskirts of Rome, late Tuesday June 7, 2016. Italy for the first time has taken custody of one of the alleged organizers of a people-smuggling route through Africa that has moved hundreds of millions of euros across borders and tens of thousands of migrants to Europe. (Italian Police via AP)

ROME: Italian authorities are questioning an Eritrean man after doubts emerged about whether he is the alleged mastermind of a migrant smuggling route, or an innocent victim of mistaken identity.

Prosecutors from Sicily and the suspect’s Italian lawyer were at a Rome prison Friday to question the suspect, who had been identified as Medhane Yehdego Mered. Italian prosecutors hailed the arrest and extradition as a major breakthrough.

Within hours of the announcement, however, the Eritrean diaspora in Europe starting buzzing with reports that the man escorted off the plane was not Mered, but an Eritrean refugee with similar first names who had been living in Sudan.

Palermo chief prosecutor Francesco La Voi told The Associated Press that the necessary checks are being made.


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