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Human trafficking convict escapes during court trial

Kidane Zecharias, who was arrested a year ago suspected of involvement in human trafficking, escaped on Thursday while he was presented before the Lideta Branch of the Federal High court, The Reporter has learnt.

Sources from the Branch confirmed that the suspect was scheduled to appear in his ongoing court trial on Thursday. But shortly before the scheduled time, the suspect requested his security escort [Prison administration police] to visit the restroom. After a few minutes, he managed to disappear.

The same source also revealed that this is the first time that a high profile prisoner who is already wanted by INTERPOL (The International Criminal Police Organization), managed to flee.

In 2020, Federal Police had announced that it had arrested a fugitive human trafficker, Kidane along with five of his aides, allegedly involved in human trafficking in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Sudan. 

INTERPOL has been searching for him for a long time in relations with investigations which revealed that he and his five aides were involved in founding an illegal body that operates in trans-border human trafficking. 

The human trafficking network stretches from, as reported by the federal police, the Horn of Africa to Europe. Police described the network as “complex and coordinated” and as one that makes large sums of money from migrants. 

According to information obtained by The Reporter from several sources, before his arrest a year ago, Kidane lived in Dubai for several years. But upon learning that he was wanted by INTERPOL, he left Dubai for Ethiopia escaping a possible arrest by Dubai police.

In Ethiopia, Kidane was captured while returning to Addis Ababa after celebrating a holiday in Bishoftu. He was captured following tips police had received from his former victims and survivors.

Kidane is wanted by several European countries, accused of engaging and operating a chain of human trafficking crimes that stretch from Ethiopia and Eritrea to Europe via Libya.

He is also suspected of leading the human trafficking chain that caused the death of over 800 African migrants, who either drowned in Mediterranean Sea or were killed by his co-traffickers.

According to a statement released after his arrest last year, Kidane and his five aides were arrested after a manhunt that took several years. It was the result of cooperation between Ethiopian police and the police of other countries in the region.