A Nigerian who has managed to find his from the deserts of Libya to the shores of Italy have recounted how he was held and tortured by electrodes.
The Nigerian migrant Efosa Idehen told Reuters that his captors, often electrocuting him by attaching electrodes to his tongue.
Idehen revealed his ordeal after one of his captors was arrested in Italy for alleged murder, rape, kidnapping and human-trafficking on Saturday.
He described his arrested captor Sam Eric Ackom who is a Ghanaian as “one of the most terrible” of those who tortured him.
Other migrants had similar stories. Migrants from Ivory Coast and Guinea also said they were held in a guarded compound in the Libyan desert where they were threatened with guns and forced to telephone relatives to request money while they were being tortured.
“Every time I had to call home, Fanti tied me up with my feet in the air … and beat me with a rubber tube in every part of my body, especially the soles of my feet,” said Ivorian Vadro Diomande.
Italian police said Sam Eric Ackom known as Fanti was arrested after migrants he is accused of mistreating attacked him at a reception centre on the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa.
According to the arrest warrant, the African migrants turned on 20-year-old Sam Eric Ackom, known to his assailants as Fanti, when they recognised him as one of a gang that had kidnapped and tortured them in Libya during their voyage to Italy.
The warrant, issued by police in the Sicilian city of Agrigento and seen by Reuters, illustrates the plight of thousands of migrants fleeing war and poverty who increasingly fall victim to criminal gangs operating in lawless Libya.
Boat migrant arrivals in Italy are up more than 57 per cent on the same period last year, according to Italian Interior Ministry figures this month, with about half a million arriving since the start of 2014.
Those who have arrived this year have told of increasing violence and brutality in Libya, where rival factions battle for power and people smugglers operate with impunity amid the chaos left by the 2011 overthrow of longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi.
The 27-page arrest warrant contains testimony by numerous migrants of the treatment they received after being kidnapped by Ackom and other gang members, including rape, scalding with boiling water and beatings.