Europe

Authorities questioning migrant trafficking suspect

  • In this picture taken Thursday, June 9, 2106, Hiweet Berhe Tesfamarian Kidane, holds photocopies of documents she told the Associated Press belong to her brother Medhanie Tesfamariam Kidane during an interview in Oslo. Hiweet Berhe Tesfamarian Kidane said that her brother was misidentified for Medhane Yehdego Mered, an Erithrean man detained in Sicily and who is accused to be an alleged mastermind of a migrant smuggling route that brought tens of thousands of migrants to Italy. (AP Photo/David Keyton)

    In this picture taken Thursday, June 9, 2106, Hiweet Berhe Tesfamarian Kidane, holds photocopies of documents she told the Associated Press belong to her brother Medhanie Tesfamariam Kidane during an interview in Oslo. Hiweet Berhe Tesfamarian Kidane said that her brother was misidentified for Medhane Yehdego Mered, an Erithrean man detained in Sicily and who is accused to be an alleged mastermind of a migrant smuggling route that brought tens of thousands of migrants to Italy. (AP Photo/David Keyton)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this picture taken Thursday, June 9, 2106, Hiweet Berhe Tesfamarian Kidane, holds photocopies of documents she told the Associated Press belong to her brother Medhanie Tesfamariam Kidane during an interview in Oslo. Hiweet Berhe Tesfamarian Kidane said that her brother was misidentified for Medhane Yehdego Mered, an Erithrean man detained in Sicily and who is accused to be an alleged mastermind of a migrant smuggling route that brought tens of thousands of migrants to Italy. (AP Photo/David Keyton)

    In this picture taken Thursday, June 9, 2106, Hiweet Berhe Tesfamarian Kidane, holds photocopies of documents she told the Associated Press belong to her brother Medhanie Tesfamariam Kidane during an interview in Oslo. Hiweet Berhe Tesfamarian Kidane said that her brother was misidentified for Medhane Yehdego Mered, an Erithrean man detained in Sicily and who is accused to be an alleged mastermind of a migrant smuggling route that brought tens of thousands of migrants to Italy. (AP Photo/David Keyton)  (The Associated Press)

  • Lawyer Michele Calantropo leaves the Rebibbia penitentiary in Rome, Friday, June 10, 2016. The Eritrean man extradited to Italy under great fanfare as an alleged kingpin of a migrant smuggling ring told authorities on Friday that his arrest in Sudan was a case of mistaken identity, his lawyer, said. ‘’It is clear for him he is not the man who is smuggling or trafficking humans,’’ Michele Calantropo said outside the Rome prison where the suspect was questioned by prosecutors from Sicily leading Italy’s anti-smuggling investigations in the presence of a judge. (AP Photo/Fabio Frustaci)

    Lawyer Michele Calantropo leaves the Rebibbia penitentiary in Rome, Friday, June 10, 2016. The Eritrean man extradited to Italy under great fanfare as an alleged kingpin of a migrant smuggling ring told authorities on Friday that his arrest in Sudan was a case of mistaken identity, his lawyer, said. ‘’It is clear for him he is not the man who is smuggling or trafficking humans,’’ Michele Calantropo said outside the Rome prison where the suspect was questioned by prosecutors from Sicily leading Italy’s anti-smuggling investigations in the presence of a judge. (AP Photo/Fabio Frustaci)  (The Associated Press)

Italian authorities are questioning an Eritrean man after doubts emerged about whether he is the alleged mastermind of a migrant smuggling route, or an innocent victim of mistaken identity.

Prosecutors from Sicily and the suspect's Italian lawyer were at a Rome prison Friday to question the suspect, who had been identified as Medhane Yehdego Mered. Italian prosecutors hailed the arrest and extradition as a major breakthrough.

Within hours of the announcement, however, the Eritrean diaspora in Europe starting buzzing with reports that the man escorted off the plane was not Mered, but an Eritrean refugee with similar first names who had been living in Sudan.

Palermo chief prosecutor Francesco La Voi told The Associated Press that the necessary checks are being made.