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Jun 21, 2017

Hungarian trial begins over murder of 71 refugees found suffocated to death in lorry

One Afghan and three Bulgarian nationals appeared in court on Wednesday and are facing life. Eleven men in total are reported to be facing charges, one is on the run

Four people traffickers have gone on trial charged with the murder of 71 refugees found in the back of a lorry en route to Austria in 2015.

According to reports, one Afghan and three Bulgarian nationals appeared in court on Wednesday. Eleven men in total are reported to be facing charges, one is on the run.

Hungarian prosecutors are calling for life sentences for smugglers charged with the deaths of the 71 migrants who suffocated in a refrigerated lorry found on an Austrian motorway in 2015.

The suspects are 11 men of Afghan, Bulgarian and Lebanese nationality. Prosecutors are seeking life sentences in the case of four suspects and fixed-term imprisonment and expulsion from Hungary in the case of seven involved in the smuggling operation. 

Migrants from Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq were among the victims found in the lorry with Hungarian number plates abandoned on the hard-shoulder of the A4 highway near Parndorf, Austria, on August 27, 2015. The Afghan leader of the smuggling ring earned at least 300,000 euros through this activity, according to the prosecution statement. The lorry which set off from Kecskemét was driven by a 25-year-old Bulgarian accompanied by a 38-year-old compatriot, it added.

The public prosecutor of Bács-Kiskun county said that altogether 1,200 people were transported illegally to western Europe between February 2015 and August of the same year on 31 occasions in sealed and crowded lorry compartments.