Update: Italian court rules mistaken identity, frees man – Stories

The Latest on a migrant smuggling trial in Italy (all times local):

3:30 p.m.

A court in Sicily has ruled that the wrong Eritrean man was put on trial as an alleged migrant smuggling kingpin, and ordered him freed.

A man identified by prosecutors as Medhane Yehdego Mered, an alleged human trafficking kingpin, sits behind the bars during a trial inside the Ucciardone bunker hall in the Sicilian town of Palermo, Italy, Friday, July 12, 2019. The Palermo court on Friday began deliberating the fate of six alleged migrant smugglers, including an Eritrean whose claims that his is a case of mistaken identity have garnered international attention. The defendant’s lawyer, Michele Calantropo, contends the defendant’s identity is Medhanie Tesfamariam Behre and that he’s innocent. (Igor Petty/ANSA via AP)
A man identified by prosecutors as Medhane Yehdego Mered, an alleged human trafficking kingpin, sits behind the bars during a trial inside the Ucciardone bunker hall in the Sicilian town of Palermo, Italy, Friday, July 12, 2019. The Palermo court on Friday began deliberating the fate of six alleged migrant smugglers, including an Eritrean whose claims that his is a case of mistaken identity have garnered international attention. The defendant’s lawyer, Michele Calantropo, contends the defendant’s identity is Medhanie Tesfamariam Behre and that he’s innocent. (Igor Petty/ANSA via AP)

Lawyer Michele Calantropo said his client, Medhanie Tesfamariam Behre “cried for joy” when he heard the ruling in a Palermo courtroom Friday afternoon.

Prosecutors had alleged that the defendant was Medhane Yehdego Mered. But as soon as Behre was extradited to Italy in 2016, his claims of mistaken identity gained international support.

Calantropo said the court did convict Behre of a lesser crime, aiding clandestine immigration, but not trafficking, because the investigation had determined Behre helped two cousins migrate to Italy. Behre received a five-year sentence on the lesser charge but is unlikely to have to serve out the rest of his sentence.

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12:15 p.m.

A court in Sicily is deliberating the fate of alleged migrants smugglers, including an Eritrean who claims his is a case of mistaken ID.

The defendant’s lawyer, Michele Calantropo, said Friday it was unclear when the court might announce a verdict. Prosecutors insist his client is Medhane Yehdego Mered, an alleged human trafficking kingpin.

Calantropo contends the defendant’s identity is Medhanie Tesfamariam Behre and that he’s innocent. The man was arrested in Sudan and extradited to Italy in 2016.

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  • Italian court mulls fate of 6 accused of migrant trafficking – Stories
  • FILE – In this June 9, 2106 file photo, Hiweet Berhe Tesfamarian Kidane, holds photocopies of documents she told the Associated Press belong to her brother Medhanie Tesfamariam Behre during an interview in Oslo. On Friday, July 12, 2019, a court in Sicily will deliberate the fate of alleged migrants smugglers, including an Eritrean who claims his is a case of mistaken ID. The defendant

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