- Title: Trial due to start for 11 people charged over lorry migrant deaths
- Date: 20th June 2017
- Summary: NEAR PARNDORF, AUSTRIA (FILE - AUGUST 27, 2015) (REUTERS) TRACKING SHOT ON MOTORWAY / POLICE AND INVESTIGATORS ON SITE / FORENSIC TEAM BY WHITE LORRY WHERE BODIES WERE FOUND WIDE SHOT OF POLICE AND INVESTIGATORS ON SITE / FORENSIC TEAM BY WHITE LORRY WHERE BODIES WERE FOUND VARIOUS OF CLOTHING AND BELONGINGS ON THE GROUND / PAIR OF SHOES AND A BACKPACK MAP MORE OF CLOTHING ON SIDE OF THE MOTORWAY NICKELSDORF, AUSTRIA (FILE - AUGUST 27, 2015) (REUTERS) POLICE VANS PARKED WITH LORRY IN BACKGROUND VARIOUS OF LORRY WITH FORENSIC INVESTIGATORS INSIDE FEET OF FORENSIC INVESTIGATORS INSIDE LOADING BAY EISENSTADT, AUSTRIA (FILE - AUGUST 27, 2015) REUTERS) CANDLES AND STUFFED BEAR ON GROUND STUFFED TOY/PEOPLE LAYING FLOWERS AND CANDLES VARIOUS OF PEOPLE LIGHTING CANDLES AND LAYING THEM ON GROUND SIGNS READING (German) "SAFE PASSAGE FOR REFUGEES NOW!" AND "STOP INCITING HATRED" PEOPLE HOLDING BANNER READING (English) "REFUGEES WELCOME"
- Embargoed: 4th July 2017 14:22
- Keywords: migrants lorry Austria trial deaths
- Location: NEAR PARNDORF, NICKELSDORF, EISENSTADT, AUSTRIA; MATESZALKA, HUNGARY
- City: NEAR PARNDORF, NICKELSDORF, EISENSTADT, AUSTRIA; MATESZALKA, HUNGARY
- Country: Austria
- Topics: Crime/Law/Justice,Judicial Process/Court Cases/Court Decisions
- Reuters ID: LVA0016M31CG7
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: The trial of 11 men charged over the death of 71 migrants found in a refrigerator lorry parked on the A4 motorway in Austria near the Hungarian border in August 2015 is due to start on Wednesday (June 21).
The driver of the truck in which the migrants were found dead heard their cries for help as oxygen ran out but followed an order to keep them locked up, Hungarian prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said in a statement they had charged four people with murder and all 11 with human trafficking.
The four men participated in the transport of the 71 migrants directly, and the rest were involved in sustaining a network that made hundreds of thousands of euros from human smuggling, said the prosecutors' office of Bacs-Kiskun county, where the truck began its journey.
Finding clients among the hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants that crossed the Balkans in 2015, the gang made at least 31 trips across the Hungary-Austria border between February and August.
They often carried people "in closed, dark and airless vans unsuitable for passenger transport, in crowded, inhuman, excruciating conditions," the prosecution statement said.
In all, the gang moved more than 1,200 refugees to Western Europe and its Afghan boss earned at least 300,000 euros ($330,000).
Recounting details of what they called the "death lorry", prosecutors said that, around half an hour after departure, the migrants indicated with bangs and cries that they were running out of oxygen. They were heard by the driver of the truck and its reconnaissance vehicle.
"They reported the problem to the Afghan head of the criminal organisation who ordered them several times not to open the door of the container hold... (They) complied with the instructions," the prosecution statement said.
After a three-hour journey, the driver left the truck on the hard shoulder of the A4 highway in Austria and returned to Hungary in the reconnaissance car.
The following day, the gang smuggled another 67 migrants across the border, again using an unventilated, closed refrigerator lorry.
"This time the migrants were able to kick down the door of the container hold, so no one died," prosecutors said.
They identified the gang leader as a 30-year-old Afghan man, who paid for the operation and organised the transports. A 31-year-old Bulgarian was the head of the human smuggling ring and its two Bulgarian drivers.
Prosecutors are seeking life sentences for the four men, who they charged with murder.
Under Hungary's judicial system, a judge will now decide whether to proceed to trial on the basis of the prosecution evidence.
Nine of the 11 charged are in custody and the other two are being sought by police.
- Copyright Holder: FILE REUTERS (CAN SELL)
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2017. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None