On 3 October 2013 368 migrants drown not far from the coast of Lampedusa. One of the biggest massacres in the Mediterranean. Followed by the birth of the Mare Nostrum operation, controversy over the slowness of the rescue, and investigations on smugglers - in particular one, on the smuggler Mered, which becomes the flagship of the Operation Sophia. According to the Italian authorities, Mered is among the organizers of the journey of death which ended with the shipwreck of Lampedusa on 3 October 2013. The trial before the Court of Assizes of Palermo begins exactly four years later: on 3 October 2017.
So far the discrepancies of evidence on Mered's identity have not been enough to obtain a release: the Rome Review Court, on January 19, 2017, rejected pla request from Mered's lawyer in prison Michele Calantropo: "pending further investigative investigations, we need to enhance the elements that, even under the profile of the exact identity of the arrested, rise to serious evidence and allow you to believe that the person arrested in Sudan and extradited to Italy, is the suspect Mered ". Because of the risk of escape, alternative measures to detention have also been excluded.
The journalist Lorenzo Bagnoli writes: "The game that is played on the Mered case, however, goes far beyond the fate of the prisoner: the entire Operation Sophia, the device of military marines established in 2015 with the aim of dismantling the networks of traffickers, is hung on its success, the only one that can boast with public opinion, since Mered is the only "leader" arrested by European nations participating in the mission ".
From prison Medhanie Tesfamariam Berhe continues to proclaim himself innocent and victim of a personal exchange. "Exchange of person that would have happened as a result of the change of hands of a telephone user.The one that belonged to the General would then end up in the hands of the person now in prison.The two are homonyms, they are both called Medhanie, a widespread name in Eritrea as Giovanni or Michele in Italy According to the defense, this homonymy and the exchange of telephone users are the bases of the wrong arrest.The photos of the real General immediately give credit to the hypothesis of the exchange of person: as revealed first in 2016 by the Guardian, it is clear that the two have several years of difference.The documents that have been delivered to the lawyers of Mered / Berhe from Eritrea indicate that he was born in 1987, six years after the real Mered.