There was a young man called Medhanie
Whose ancestral name is Kidane.
They mistook him for Mered
Who littered the sea-bed
With change from his travelling money.

You might not think that having light-brown skin like singer Smokey Robinson, corkscrew hair like footballer Roberto Baggio, and the same first name as the man they were actually looking for, would suffice to persuade Italy’s police that their prisoner was indeed Medhanie ‘The General’ Mered.

Perhaps the Polizia didn’t need much persuading – not if they were dummkopfs simply desperate to cop somebody.

In any event, the man arrested in Khartoum and extradited to Rome on Wednesday, now seems to have been correctly identified as Medhanie Kidane Berhe; not the‘kingpin people trafficker’, but a 29-year-old refugee from Eritrea.

The UK National Crime Agency, quick to declare its involvement in the arrest of Mered, has had less to say since the prisoner’s identify was called into question.

This is likely to be confirmed as a terrible case of mistaken ID. But is it any less terrible that the wrong man was a nonentity beforehand, and the best we can offer him is to become so again?

The wrong man is a refugee from war-torn Eritrea.
Chances are this is not the first time he has been wronged.
Eritrea is described as ‘war-torn’ as often as ‘horse-drawn’ comes before ‘carriage’.
But who here has the capacity to care about what happens there?
Frankly, Medhanie, we don’t give a damn.

And what of Medhanie Mered? The self-appointed ‘general’ who shackled and banged up refugees, allegedly, until their families found more money to move them on to thenext leg and the next trafficker.

Who laughed, reportedly, when told that more than 300 of his paying passengers had drowned after their boat capsized off the Italian island of Lampedusa.

He’d had their money already; now the sea saved him the trouble of handling their landing.

Yet if we didn’t laugh, what else did the West do but fail this human cargo more discreetly?