Five suspected migrant smugglers, including three Bangladeshi and two Sudanese nationals who reached Lampedusa, Italy on December 26, were arrested by police on aggravated charges of favoring illegal migration, criminal association, torture and kidnapping for extortion, judicial sources said Monday.
The arrests, after warrants were issued by DDA anti-mafia authorities in Palermo, were carried out last Tuesday and approved by a preliminary investigations judge (GIP) in Agrigento who ordered that the five be taken to prison, Italian ANSAmed reported.
Some migrants denounced that they were abused during their time in a Libyan safe house, right until their departure for Sicily.
The investigation was launched by police, coordinated by prosecutors in Palermo, after two migrant landings in Lampedusa on December 26, 2022.
On that occasion, specialized officers were informed about the existence of an alleged human trafficking ring, mainly of Bangladeshi nationals, from Libya’s coast to Italy, investigative sources said.
Subsequent investigations showed that the alleged trafficking victims, after paying the sums requested to reach Libya from their country of origin, were detained inside ‘centres’ until they paid more money for the crossing to Italy.
Investigations, prosecutors said, revealed “a criminal network of an international nature” and that “the five identified suspects – three Bangladeshis and two Sudanese – reached Lampedusa last December 26 together with their victims”.
The suspects, the same sources said, are believed to be “responsible of criminal association aimed at trafficking and favouring illegal immigration, as well as abduction and torture”.
The State attorney’s office in Palermo stressed that the arrest warrants issued by the GIP in Agrigento took into account evidence against the suspects whose “criminal responsibility will be defined in the subsequent phases of a trial, according to the constitutional principle of the presumption of innocence”.