MILAN — An Eritrean man accused of being a kingpin of a migrant smuggling ring has told a court in Palermo that his is a case of mistaken identity.

The suspect’s lawyer, Michel Calantropo, said his client made the declaration as the trial for human smuggling reopened Tuesday in a new court and was combined with a parallel trial.

Calantropo has maintained that his client is not, in fact, Medhane Yehdego Mered, an alleged mastermind who profited from the smuggling of thousands of migrants from the Horn of Africa to Italy via Libya. The lawyer said his identity is Medhanie Tesfamariam Berhe.

Calantropo said he is working on getting a visa for Berhe’s mother in Eritrea to travel to Italy for a DNA test to prove his identity.