The crossing to Europe then took place on overcrowded and barely seaworthy boats. Numerous migrants did not survive this sea voyage.
Some of the Eritreans in the Netherlands had to deal with such practices during their trip. One of the victims told Opsporing Verzocht about his experiences last year. “I was in one of his camps in Libya. That was horrible. You will be beaten until you pay for your trip. They did that by hitting your wet-sprayed body with a cable or stick. As a result, your skin is exfoliated.”
The young man, who was only fourteen years old at the time, says he saw a lot happen. "I have seen some traveling companions die," says the migrant, who saw with his own eyes how Habtemariam raged against his travel companions. “Sometimes when one person did something that was not allowed, we were all punished. He did that by starving us, for example. This man shouldn't be roaming free. For me this is all over, but my brothers and sisters are still in those camps.”
Habtemariam is rumored to have escaped after bribing a security guard. "Unfortunately, that's how it goes in Ethiopia," one victim told Middle East Eye last year . “With money you buy a way out.” The migrant, who wishes to remain anonymous for his safety, was delighted when Habtemariam was arrested. “Of course I was happy. Kidane was responsible for so much death and suffering. But I was naive to think that we would get justice.”
Fuad Bedru, another survivor, dared to tell his story by name and by name through the same medium. He spent more than six months in a detention camp, where he claims to have been tortured by Habtemariam. This continued until his family paid a huge amount of money. “Kidane lives in a house next to the camp. He would come to us whenever he felt like beating someone up. The man is unhinged, a monster. I have seen every kind of cruelty. Kidane and his gang are bathed in blood. Killing someone means nothing to them.”
The beatings were merciless, said Esube Mesele, another survivor. "The only time you were allowed to go out and see sunlight and sky was when Kidane called you up for a beating." A female migrant says she had been threatened with death by Habtemariam if she did not pay him 4,000 euros in ransom. She worked for a year under duress in one of his warehouses in Libya, she told The Irish Times . Torture and humiliation were the order of the day in the warehouse. Especially when families failed to pay on time, the beatings got worse and worse.
Lawsuit in the Netherlands
Justice in the Netherlands wants to bring Habtemariam and the now extradited man to court for people smuggling from Eritrea via Libya to the Netherlands or other EU member states. “In addition to the atrocities surrounding human smuggling, the man who has now been extradited is extortion. His criminal organization earned large sums of money with this," the Public Prosecution Service said in a statement.