People Smugglers Accused of Torturing Migrants Arrested in North Macedonia

Migrants try to warm themselves by a fire near Idomeni at the border between Greece and North Macedonia on October 18, 2021. - Since the conservative government took office in 2019, Greece has steadily tightened asylum policies, rejecting thousands of applications and expelling hundreds of people from camps. Camped out …

Police in North Macedonia have arrested two Pakistani nationals and two Afghans suspected of torturing migrants trafficked people.

The four migrants, two of which are said to be minors, are thought to be part of a human trafficking network operating near the Serbian border that helped migrants looking to use the Balkan route to reach Europe by providing them with accommodations.

Authorities in Serbia were alerted to the activities of the alleged people traffickers after some migrants contacted the police after leaving a camp run by the traffickers.

Serbian and North Macedonian authorities found the camp, arrested the alleged people traffickers, and found 35 migrants — nine of them underage — living at the camp.

According to a report from the EU-funded website InfoMigrants, the four suspects are also thought to have abused and tortured the migrants, filming the abuse in order to extort money from the relatives of the migrants living overseas.

The abuse is said to have been both physical and sexual, with officials claiming that it had been “extremely cruel”. The traffickers also confiscated all documents and mobile phones from the migrants to prevent them from calling for assistance.

Cases and accusations of torture by people smugglers are not uncommon, with three foreign people smugglers being convicted of torturing migrants last year by an Italian court.

Mohammed Conde (27), Egyptian Hameda Ahmed (26), and 24-year-old Egyptian Mahmoud Ashuia were all found guilty of physically and sexually abusing migrants trying to reach Italy from North Africa as well as being found guilty of murder and extortionary kidnapping. All three men were sentenced to twenty years in prison in Italy.

In 2017, another Italian court convicted Somali people trafficker Osman M. for rape, torture, and murder of other migrants.

Some cases have seen even more horrific details, such as the case involving Medhanie Yehdego Mered, whose phone was said to have contained scenes of torture and cannibalism.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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