Up to 400 people, mainly Eritreans, are being held for ransom by people-traffickers
May 13 2011
Up to 400 people, mainly Eritreans, are being held for ransom by people-traffickers in Egypt's Sinai desert, a Catholic priest has told the BBC.
Father Mussie Zerai, who heads a Rome-based refugee charity, says they are tortured and forced to phone relatives for ransoms of up to $10,000 (£6,000).
He said one hostage told him a 24-year-old Eritrean man had recently died after electric shock torture.
BBC Africa analyst Martin Plaut says this testimony has been supported by an Israeli group, Physicians for Human Rights, which has documented the evidence of torture on 300 Eritreans who survived a similar ordeal.