Infamous human smuggler sentenced to 18 years in Ethiopian prison

Infamous human smuggler sentenced to 18 years in Ethiopian prison

Eritrean Tewelde Goitom, known as Welid, was in late April found guilty of five charges of trafficking individuals.

People from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan and Somalia were promised to be taken to Europe via the Mediterranean Sea [File: Hannah Wallace Bowman/Reuters]

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An Eritrean human smuggler, accused of extorting thousands of refugees and migrants in Libya, has been sentenced to 18 years in prison in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.

Tewelde Goitom, known as Welid, was also ordered to pay a fine of 200,000 birrs ($4,608) – the maximum allowed, according to Ethiopian legislation – during the hearing that took place on Monday, six weeks after he was found guilty of five charges of trafficking individuals.

Shishay Godefay Demoz, an accomplice who assisted Goitom in Libya and went on trial with him, was sentenced to 16 years and six months in prison, and ordered to pay 50,000 birrs ($1,152). He was also found guilty in late April of two trafficking charges.

Lawyers for both defendants have said they will appeal against the verdict. Such a move needs to take place within 60 days of sentencing.

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