Four men jailed for 25 years for deaths of 71 mi­grants in a lorry in Hun­gary

The National - News - - NEWS WORLD -

The four main sus­pects in­volved in the deaths of 71 mi­grants in a lorry on an Aus­trian mo­tor­way, were jailed for 25 years yes­ter­day, in a case that caused in­ter­na­tional re­vul­sion.

The trial took place in Hun­gary, which took over the pro­ceed­ings from Vi­enna after it emerged that the mi­grants had suf­fo­cated in Hun­gary be­fore reach­ing Aus­tria.

Ten other sus­pects were jailed for be­tween three and 12 years by the court, in the south­ern town of Kecskemet.

The men were charged with “ag­gra­vated mur­der with par­tic­u­lar cru­elty” in the year-long trial, which put the spot­light on the plight of mi­grants in the hands of hu­man traf­fick­ers.

State pros­e­cu­tor Ga­bor Sch­midt asked for life terms for the key sus­pects, and that three should get life with­out pa­role: the Afghan ring­leader, 31; a Bul­gar­ian as­so­ciate, also 31; and the Bul­gar­ian driver, 27. The fourth was a 40-yearold Bul­gar­ian.

The Bu­dapest-based ring had more than 15 ve­hi­cles and trans­ported refugees from Greece along the west­ern Balkans to Europe. In­ves­ti­ga­tors said the gang had smug­gled more than 1,100 peo­ple from Hun­gary into Aus­tria since Fe­bru­ary 2015, charg­ing up to €1,500 (Dh6,500) each.

The mo­tor­way vic­tims – 59

men, eight women and four chil­dren, in­clud­ing a baby – came from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. They had been dead for two days when po­lice found the lorry, their bodies piled on top of each other.

Hav­ing made their way to the Ser­bian bor­der with Hun­gary, the group of 71 were packed into the air­tight lorry and they slowly suf­fo­cated.

Their cries to the traf­fick­ers to stop and open the doors for fresh air were ig­nored. Once he re­alised what had hap­pened, the driver aban­doned the re­frig­er­ated lorry by the side of the mo­tor­way.

In court, the ac­cused claimed they had not known their cargo was dy­ing, but ev­i­dence pro­duced showed oth­er­wise.

Ring­leader Sam­soor La­hoo told the court he “had not wanted any­one’s death”. But po­lice in­ter­cepts of calls made with his men on the lorry, ask­ing what to do, came across dif­fer­ently – he told them not to open the doors. “Let them die in­stead. That’s an order,” La­hoo is al­leged to have said.

“If they die, let him dump them in a for­est in Ger­many.”

For Mr Sch­midt, La­hoo showed only “end­less greed” and “fright­en­ing in­dif­fer­ence” to the plight of mi­grants des­per­ate to get to Europe.

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