Coast Guard official accused of having smuggled immigrants arrested

The Libyan government in Tripoli announced on Friday, October 16, the arrest of a Coast Guard official suspected of human trafficking, including migrants to Europe.

Captain Abdelrahman Milad – known as “Al-Bidja” – was a senior official of the Coast Guard in Zawiya, about fifty kilometers west of Tripoli. His name is on a list of people who are subject to sanctions from the UN Security Council, and he is wanted by Interpol.

For human rights activist and Eritrean journalist Meron Estefanos, who has extensively investigated human trafficking in Libya, Al-Bidja is a well-known figure. “If you look at the number of migrants who have passed through Libya – especially after the fall of Gaddafi – the number is huge, and the vast majority went through Zawiya, where Al-Bidja was captain. Almost all of the refugees I spoke to – and I interviewed hundreds, if not thousands – suggested almost all that a coastguard was involved in the smuggling of migrants, she says. But it took years for it to come out. But he is a known human trafficker who traded in many things, gasoline, migrants. And what’s sad is that at the same time he took part in discussions with Europeans on how to stop illegal immigration. I have been saying for years that there are Libyan coastguards responsible for smuggling migrants. When Italy decided to conclude an agreement with its coastguards, I was among the first to terminate this agreement, saying that those who operate are the same ones who are paid by Europe to stop these networks of traffickers. . “

“I’m waiting to see where he will be put on trial”

Meron Estefanos welcomes the arrest of Al-Bidja. According to her, Bidja is responsible for the deaths of many people. “How this traffic works is as follows: when someone wants to board a boat to Europe, he is in contact with a fixer, a trafficker who promises to put it on a boat. But then the Coast Guard takes over. Often it is people like Bidja – who are in high places who have connections – who want to put migrants on board such a boat, she explains. And if you put 500 people on a boat that can only hold 100 and there is an accident, you are responsible for the death of those people. So far, those who have been pinned down by the government have been second knives, so this time I am pleased with the arrest of Abdelrahman Milad “Al-Bidja”. But I wonder what will happen to him: will he be transferred to the ICC, or will he be tried in Libya, where there is a lot of corruption, and where he can pay and be released. . So I’m a little worried and I’m waiting to see where he’s going to appear in court. “

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