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4 jailed for 25 years in Austria migrant deaths


KECSKEMET, Hungary: Four people smugglers were jailed for 25 years on Thursday for the deaths of 71 men, women and children whose decomposing bodies were found crammed inside a truck dumped on an Austrian motorway three

years ago.

Trial judge Janos Jadi said the gang were guilty of “extreme cruelty” by refusing to stop the refrigeration truck and open the doors to allow

in air. “The people inside realised that they may suffocate to death, so they banged the doors, screamed and shouted trying to signal to the driver,” Jadi told a packed courthouse in the Hungarian town of Kecskemet.

The August 2015 deaths of 59 men, eight women and four children from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan shocked Europe as it struggled to cope with a massive influx of migrants.

The incident was the worst of its kind on the route across the Balkans taken by hundreds of thousands fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

In his ruling Jadi said the leader of the smugglers ordered the driver not to open the doors of the Volvo freezer truck as it headed from the Serbian-Hungarian border towards Germany. The other three followed in cars and were in contact by phone during the journey.

The temperature rose quickly soon after their departure and the air began to run out, Jadi said, but the driver could have stopped on the motorway to let air in, “anytime and anywhere”.

All the victims had suffocated to death within a couple of hours after departure, Jadi said. “None of the accused did anything, they stayed passive,” he said. “This shows extreme cruelty.” — Reuters

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