Lampedusa ‘trafficker’ arrested

One of the survivors of the October 3 migrant boat sinking off the island of Lampedusa has been arrested after other migrants identified him as a member of an African trafficking gang.

Identified in reports as a Somali, the unnamed man is alleged to have been one of a number of men who tortured and raped migrants at a ‘holding camp’ in Libya to force trafficking money from them, said to be as much as €2,200 per person for the onward journey towards Europe. Only when the migrants paid over the money were they freed from the camp and loaded onto the boat which sank just miles from Lampedusa when its engine failed and a signal fire set by desperate passengers went out of control and consumed the vessel. Pregnant women and children were among those subsequently drowned before rescue ships could reach the scene.

The man now in custody entered Lampedusa in the guise of a migrant, but was then attacked within the camp by some of the 155 survivors, prompting the investigation which led to his detention.

The man has now been transferred to Sicily where he faces charges of kidnapping, sexual violence and people smuggling.

He is the second man arrested as a result of the Lampedusa sinking. A Tunisian alleged to have captained the doomed boat was detained earlier in October.