Dutch prosecutors said on Thursday that an Eritrean man with a conviction for human trafficking who has been on the Netherlands’ most wanted list since 2021 had been arrested in Sudan.
The Netherlands will request that Kidane Zekarias Habtemariam is extradited, said prosecutors, who want to try him on charges related to his alleged people-smuggling ring.
The 39-year-old was arrested on Sunday in a police operation against money laundering that was led by the United Arab Emirates, the prosecutors’ office said.
Kidane was sentenced in absentia to life in prison by an Ethiopian court in June 2021 after being convicted of starving and torturing African refugees and migrants who were headed for Europe in warehouses in Libya.
He had escaped from court premises in Addis Ababa in February 2021 after nearly a year of trial on eight counts of human trafficking.
In October 2021, the Dutch public prosecutor’s office put Kidane on its most wanted list, saying an investigation had revealed his organisation had abused, extorted, kidnapped and raped Eritreans who wanted to reach the Netherlands.
Under the concept of universal jurisdiction, Dutch law allows cases to be brought against foreign nationals for crimes committed abroad if victims are in the Netherlands.
Thousands of refugees and migrants seeking a better life embark in small boats on the perilous journey from Libya to Europe each year, with many drowning en route.
Reporting by Bart Meijer; Editing by Catherine Evans