Italian Court Sentences Foreign People-Smugglers to 20 Years for Torture

immigrants europe
AP/Santi Palacios

An Italian court has sentenced three foreign people-smugglers to 20 years each after they were found guilty of torturing migrants who were attempting to cross the Mediterranean.

The three men, 27-year-old Guinean Mohammed Conde, 26-year-old Egyptian Hameda Ahmed, and 24-year-old Egyptian Mahmoud Ashuia, were found guilty of belonging to a criminal organisation that engaged in human trafficking, torture, sexual violence, murder, and extortionary kidnapping.

According to testimony and evidence presented in court, the three men are said to have tortured and beaten migrants aboard boats in the Mediterranean as well as in a prison on the Libyan mainland, Italian newspaper Gazzetta del Sud reports.

The three men were arrested last year in August in the Sicilian city of Messina following a joint investigation into their people-smuggling activities by law enforcement in Messina and Palermo.

They were also linked to the landing of 59 migrants on the island of Lampedusa on the 5th and 7th of July in 2019, aboard a vessel operated by the left-wing Italian migrant transport NGO Mediterranea Saving Humans.

The NGO has had trouble in the past regarding allegations of abetting illegal migration, with its head Luca Casarini interrogated by Italian officials last year when populist League leader Matteo Salvini served as the country’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior.

Over the last several years, Italy has arrested a number of people-smugglers and disrupted several trafficking networks.

Perhaps the most brutal case of recent years took place in 2016, involving the infamous Eritrean trafficking kingpin Medhanie Yehdego Mered.

Nicknamed “The General”, the man believed to be Mered was arrested in Sudan and extradited to Italy in June of that year. A mobile phone revealed not only acts of torture on migrants but videos and photos of dismembered bodies, murders, and even acts of cannibalism.

In 2019, however, the convicted man was released after a judge concluded that he was in fact Medhanie Tesfamariam Berhe, a much lower level people-smuggler who had been wrongly identified as Mered.

“The General” made millions of euros from not only people-smuggling but also from harvesting and selling the organs of migrants as well.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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