An Eritrean man who is thought to have headed of the biggest human trafficking network which smuggled people into Europe was extradited from Sudan and sent to Italy for trial, officials said.
Medhanie Yehdego Mered, 35, was arrested in Khartoum on 24 May and extradited on Tuesday. He had been heard, in intercepted calls, urging for more people to me crammed onto boats to cross the Mediterranean Sea into Europe, prosecutors said.
"Medhanie's organisation is thought to have been responsible for putting the people aboard a vessel that sank in 2013 off the island of Lampedusa, claiming 356 lives," a joint statement by the British Embassy in Khartoum, the Italian Embassy in the country and the Sudanese Interior Ministry read.
"Medhanie is accused of masterminding one of the major criminal groups operating in central Africa and Libya, smuggling migrants across the Sahara desert and the Mediterranean Sea… The charges against Medhanie show that he was moving hundreds of people a month across the Mediterranean."
"This highly profitable criminal activity was executed with absolute disregard for human life," the statement ended.
The Italian state television said Medhanie was transported via an Italian private jet from Khartoum to Rome.