Kecskemét, May 4 (MTI) – The prosecutors in central Hungary have called for suspected smugglers involved in the deaths of 71 migrants who suffocated in a refrigerated lorry which passed through Hungary and was discovered in Austria to receive life sentences for murder and smuggling as part of a criminal organisation.
The public prosecutor of Bács-Kiskun county, László Nánási, told a news conference on Thursday that, according to the charges, 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.
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.
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 Kecskemet was driven by a 25-year-old Bulgarian accompanied by a 38-year-old compatriot, it added.
Approximately half an hour after departure, the migrants banged and cried out that they were running out of air, the statement said.