Somali smuggler who tortured his victims is detained in Italy

TMP – 13/07/2017

A Somali man has been detained on the southern Italian island of Lampedusa, accused of raping and torturing asylum seekers in Libya.

Police on the island said the 23-year-old suspect, Mohamed Ahmed Tahir, “reveled” in beating asylum seekers. Migrants identified Tahir as a torturer employed at a detention centre in Libya’s south-eastern region of Kufra.

Tahir is the sixth person detained in Italy since March on suspicion of torturing migrants in Libya, where human traffickers and smuggling gangs have set up a ruthless trade amid the chaos of the country’s ongoing civil war.

“Once he arrived on Lampedusa he threatened the migrants that recognized him to stay silent, but they had the courage to identify him to the police,” said Giovanni Minardi, the police officer who led the investigating team and made the arrest.

Minardi said that Tahir was part of a transnational armed criminal organisation dedicated to human trafficking, kidnapping, sexual assault, murder and facilitating illegal immigration. Charges include beating migrants with rubber hoses, burning them with petrol and threatening them with weapons.

“He beat the migrants. He reveled in humiliating us and throwing his weight around. I remember once the Libyan man, who owned the camp, had to tell him off because he was beating us so badly that it was killing people,” said one victim.