Reward for information leading to Eritrean people smuggler

Kidane Zekarias Habtemariam, from Eritrea, is one of the world’s most notorious and cruellest people smugglers. He is wanted by a large-scale international investigation into migration crime that is being conducted from the Netherlands. On 19 October 2021, he was placed on the Dutch National Wanted List. The chief public prosecutor of the National Public Prosecutors' Office offers a 20,000 euro reward for the tip leading to Kidane’s arrest.

Image: ©Opsporing Verzocht

Kidane is the head of a camp in Libya where thousands of migrants are living. He is suspected of leading a criminal organization that seeks to make as much money as possible on the backs of migrants. His victims are subjected to severe beatings, kidnapping, rape, and/or unlawful deprivation of liberty. Many do not survive the journey to Europe, and even if they do make it to the Netherlands, he extorts money from them by making them pay him for the next member of their family who is on their way to Europe.

Where is Kidane?

Kidane escaped from a court in Ethiopia in 2021, and has been missing without trace ever since. The investigation team want to know where he is. Kidane will be summoned to appear in court in the Netherlands, even if he has not yet been found.

Who has information?

Some of the Eritreans now in the Netherlands were subjected to Kidane’s practices on their journey here. It is likely that there are people in the Eritrean community who have information about his current whereabouts. The investigation team have made a short film in the Eritrean language Tigrinya, to try to reach them.

Where can you pass on tips?

There is a special number for Eritreans to contact, where they can leave a voice message safely, confidentially, and for free (via Whatsapp or Viber messenger): +31 6 57 72 55 80. Messages can also be left in Tigrinya. It is also possible to send an email about Kidane’s whereabouts to KMAR.opsporingverzocht@mindef.nl.

How can you help?

Anyone who has contact with people from Eritrea can help. Tell any Eritreans you know that Kidane is on the wanted list, and that it is important for the criminal investigation and prosecution that people share any information they have with the investigation team.